Gemalto contactless biometric payment cards selected for NatWest UK pilot

NatWest (National Westminster Bank) will be piloting biometric payment cards supplied by Gemalto in an upcoming trial. NatWest is a retail and commercial bank in the UK and part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

The trial will have 200 customers using their fingerprint to verify transactions over £30. The EMV cards are powered by the terminal, and enable customers to tap their cards at standard contactless POS terminals and authorize the transaction with a fingerprint. Adopting the cards to replace PIN or signature verification removes the limits previously placed on the value of contactless payments.

“Using a fingerprint rather than a PIN code to authorize transactions has many advantages, primarily enhanced security and greater convenience,” explains Howard Berg, UK MD of Gemalto. “Cardholders can pay quickly and easily with just a simple touch, and they no longer need to worry about the limit on contactless payment transactions.”

French bank Societe Generale also removed the amount limit on contactless transactions during its biometric banking card trial of IDEMIA technology in November.

Goode Intelligence noted in a recent report that the ability to use contactless cards for higher value transactions is one of the potential drivers which it predicts will lead to the use of biometrics for payments by 2.6 billion people by 2023.

The announcement noted that NatWest is working closely with Gemalto, Visa and MasterCard to bring the service to customers in the UK. Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaolo ran a similar trial of the Gemalto biometric card in December.

“We are using the very latest technology across our business to make banking easier for our customers and biometric fingerprint cards are one of the many technologies we are exploring further,” commented David Crawford, Head of Current Accounts at NatWest. “This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and we are excited to trial the service.”

Gemalto Director of Biometrics Fred Martinez recently spoke with Biometric Update about some of the issues to address in bringing biometric cards to the mass market.

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