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First commercial biometric payment cards issued in France to be powered by Thales and Fingerprint Cards

First commercial biometric payment cards issued in France to be powered by Thales and Fingerprint Cards

BNP Paribas is expected to launch a new biometric bank card this fall in significant numbers, according to Le Parisien, which Fingerprint Cards has announced includes its technology. The fingerprint-enabled payment card will be offered to holders of the bank’s Premier or Gold cards.

Fingerprint Cards linked to the article in a Tweet noting the card features “biometrics by Fingerprints,” and Le Parisien reports that Thales as the card’s technology integrator.

BNP Paribas Electronic and Innovative Payments Manager Jean-Marie Dragon told Le Parisien that a first batch of between 10,000 and 15,000 Visa Premier biometric cards will be offered this fall. The cost of the cards was not disclosed.

Other French banks are closing in on launches of biometric cards as well. Crédit Agricole Touraine Poitou Regional Bank is planning to launch fingerprint payment cards at three regional banks before the end of the year, and a test involving hundreds of employees of Société Générale has been running for over a year. A spokesperson for Société Générale said the bank sees the cards’ potential, but the technology and simplicity of the card require further improvement.

Thales VP of Payment Cards Sylvie Gibert notes that Thales (and Gemalto prior to the completion of its acquisition by Thales) have tested hundreds of pilot projects in countries including Switzerland, the UK , Cyprus and Lebanon.

A green indicator lights up when a transaction is successfully authenticated.

A contactless biometric card featuring technology from Thales and Fingerprint Cards was certified by Mastercard at the beginning of the year, a year after Gemalto selected Fingerprint Cards’ T-Shape sensor and biometric software platform to power its fingerprint-enabled payment cards.

Fingerprint Cards CEO Christian Fredrikson said weeks ago during a presentation to analysts that major commercial launches of biometric payment cards would begin this year, among a number of signals from companies involved in the projects that timelines for commercial adoption of the technology are moving up. Zwipe also announced a small-scale manufacturing order for its fingerprint payment card platform earlier this month.

Card payments represent 60 percent of all transactions in France, according to the report, and demand for contactless technology has only increased with concerns about COVID-19 transmission through shared surfaces.

“The appetite was already strong before the Covid but since then, the requests of banks to equip their customers are even more numerous,” Gibert told Le Parisien, per Google translate.

The French Association of Banking Users (Afub) President warned consumers not to be lulled by the ease of the cards’ use into increasing household debt.

Fingerprint Cards Chairman of the Board and former CEO Johan Carlström Tweeted that the Nilson report has forcast 29 billion payment cards will be in circulation by the end of 2023. With a replacement time of between two and three years, this means the addressable market for biometric payment cards could top 10 billion annually, and Carlström says the company believes most if not all will leverage biometrics eventually.

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