Visa introduces biometric authentication option for chip card transactions

Visa Inc. announced it has introduced a new specification which will integrate palm, voice, iris, or facial authentication capabilities with chip card transaction.

This first-of-its-kind technology framework is designed to work with the EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa) chip industry standard, enabling fingerprints to be securely accepted by a biometric reader, encrypted, and then validated.

The specification supports “match-on-card” authentication in which the biometric is validated by the EMV chip card and never leaked or stored in any central databases.

Issuers will have the option to validate the biometric data within their secure systems for transactions occurring in their own environments, such as their ATMs.

Visa’s framework design is built on the EMV chip standard, seamlessly integrating biometric cardholder verification with the technology used by 3.3 billion chip cards around the world.

As a result, financial institutions, solution providers, and others in the payments ecosystem can depend on an interoperable and consistent infrastructure for supporting biometrics.

“There is increasing demand for biometrics as a more convenient and secure alternative to signatures or PINs, especially as biometrics technologies have become more reliable and available,” said Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of risk products and business intelligence for Visa Inc. “However, to support wide adoption, it is equally important that solutions are scalable and based on open standards. Building on the EMV chip standard provides a common, interoperable foundation, as well as encourages innovation in cutting-edge biometric solutions.”

South Africa’s Absa Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group, will be the first to test out the Visa’s specification in a pilot project beginning this fall.

Cardholders will be able to use fingerprint readers at select Absa-owned ATMs instead of entering a PIN to complete transactions.

Visa said it will offer to provide the technology to EMVCo, the global technical body that manages the EMV specifications, to further develop and administer the standard for the benefit of the entire payment industry.

Previously reported, Visa is scouting for industry partners to research ways in which it can integrate biometrics to authenticate payments.

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