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MEA fintech firm to launch biometric Visa cards with Gemalto, Zwipe and FPC tech


Fintech company areeba is introducing a contactless biometric Visa card from Gemalto to the Middle East region in a pilot with Unilux Cards, the company has announced.

Technology provided by Zwipe enables cardholders to authorize transactions with the cards’ built-in Fingerprint Cards FPC1300-series fingerprint sensor, rather than a PIN, for contact or contactless payments. It is the first contactless biometric payment card introduced in the Middle East or Africa, according to areeba.

“areeba is committed to investing in new capabilities that deliver better & more secure payment solutions; using fingerprint technology to authenticate a person for payments will provide cardholders a faster, easier and more secure payment process compared to the traditional use of PINs,” said areeba CEO Maher Mikati. “We are proud to partner with Visa, Gemalto and Zwipe to run this pilot program in the Middle East and make this innovative product available for financial institutions who are keen to integrate biometric technology into their payment cards to enhance convenience and reduce fraud.”

Unilux Cards is Gemalto’s established partner in Lebanon, and will provide the fully interoperable EMV card. The card is powered by the POS terminal, and provides optional PIN-based authentication for step-up security, according to the announcement.

“Our latest payment card innovation marries biometric strong authentication and contactless, two of the most powerful forces currently shaping the consumer landscape,” said Nassir Ghrous, senior vice president Digital Banking and Payments for CISMEA Region at Gemalto. “By introducing the biometric card to the MEA region, areeba is also marking the beginning of a new era – one that will ultimately spell an end to the need for PINs and passwords.”

Visa announced two biometric payment card pilots in partnership with Gemalto and Zwipe earlier this year. When the partnership between Zwipe and Gemalto was announced just prior to that, Gemalto SVP of Payment Cards Sylvie Gilbert noted that several issuing banks in multiple regions had been identified as pilot program participants.

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