Mastercard unveils biometric card, completed trials in South Africa

April 20, 2017 - 

Mastercard has unveiled its biometric card, which combines chip technology with fingerprints to seamlessly and safely verify cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases.

The credit card firm initially tested the technology in the South African market, having recently completed two separate trials with supermarket retailer Pick n Pay and Absa Bank.

The company is also planning additional trials in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months, followed by a full roll out later this year

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security at Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

Cardholders can enroll their card by registering with their financial institution. Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card, enabling them to use the card at any EMV card terminal globally.

The biometric card works similar to any other chip card whereby the cardholder inserts the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor.

The fingerprint is verified against the template and, if the biometrics match, the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can then be approved.

Merchants can provide a more seamless and secure shopping experience to their customers, as the card works with existing EMV card terminal infrastructure without the need for new hardware or software upgrades.

For issuers, the technology helps detect and prevent fraud, boost approval rates, lower operational costs and build customer loyalty.

In the future, Mastercard will also offer a contactless version of the card that will further increase simplicity and convenience during the checkout process.

Just last month Mastercard announced it will acquire NuData Security, which provides online and mobile fraud detection solutions using behavioral biometrics.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.