Biometric payment card prospects lifted by falling costs and rising contactless limits

biometric cards idex biometrics

Idex Biometrics is expanding what it calls a “landmark” partnership with a global payment solutions provider to carry out joint marketing and sales initiatives under a commercial framework intended to accelerate the adoption of biometric smart cards.

The companies will offer an integrated system for biometric payment cards including the TrustedBio biometric-system-on-chip (BSoC) from Idex and market-leading secure elements, according to the announcement, along with algorithms and software. The commercial framework also includes incentives for each company to sell the complete solution.

“This partnership and the relationship between IDEX and our partner are very important to cement our leading position in the payment and biometric segments and will expand our global customer and issuer reach. We are bringing a complete solution to enable card manufacturers and integrators to easily design biometric smart cards with enhanced security and a superior user experience at a disruptive cost point. This solution will accelerate the adoption of biometric cards,” comments Vince Graziani, Chief Executive Officer, IDEX Biometrics ASA.

The collaboration is expected to bring its first-generation platform to high-volume production in the second half of 2021.

Improving performance and security

The TrustedBio technology, which was launched in February to slash biometric smart card production prices, will be built into the first ‘Gen 3’ biometric cards during 2021, according to a company blog post.

Gen 2 biometric cards, which are currently in production, feature distinct power management units (PMUs) and low-power microcontroller units (MCUs) for feature extraction, as well as elements like antennas, all of which increase the card’s cost. With Gen 3 cards, however, Idex is able to move some of these elements onto the sensor, due to its off-chip sensing model. A large sensing area of 90 mm-squared is maintained while integrating and shrinking the ASIC.

The post compares the Gen 2 architecture with two versions of Gen 3 with TrustedBio; with a standard secure element or a BioSE. Illustrations are provided for each,

Gen 3 cards will drop costs to around $5 per unit, according to the post, or about a third of the price of Gen 2 cards, while also decreasing fingerprint matching time to less than a second.

Rising contactless payment limits

Industry trade body UK Finance is calling on the country’s treasury to increase contactless payment limits from £45 to £100, PaymentsSource reports.

ACI Worldwide Director of Consumer Payments Modernization Dean Wallace warns that for consumers with several payment cards, this could substantially increase their potential fraud exposure, but an increased contactless limit could also motivate the adoption of biometrics for payment cards.

Graziani tells PaymentsSource that fingerprint authentication will take the place of the Chip and PIN technology that “basically eliminated card-present fraud.”

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