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Biometric payment cards see new tech, new uses and new names

Biometric payment cards see new tech, new uses and new names

Biometrically-authenticated payment cards look set to become the next piece of biometric kit in people’s pockets worldwide. Idemia is developing digital CVV numbers alongside on-card fingerprint sensors, Zwipe Pay ONE reaches the Middle East market with Inkript, and UK firm Drayson Technologies has even changed its name to Freevolt after its technology that allows energy harvesting for such cards.

Idemia experimenting with dynamic CVV, digitalizing biometric cards

Digitalization of the physical card, dynamic CVV numbers and QR codes for payments are all underway at Idemia said Eric Vernhes, CEO of Idemia Italy, in a video call with Bancaforte.

The French firm has seen an acceleration in the adoption of biometrics during COVID, and has found the direction somewhat surprising. “We were expecting to go to digitalization and replace the physical cards, but this is not happening,” said Vernhes, “And what we see is that the digitalization of the cards is coming as a complement to what we already have – the physical card.”

Idemia is continuing to develop its payment cards with on-card biometrics. Biometrics are the most secure way to protect payments, says Vernhes, but biometric cards are still “linked to the physical world where we have contacts.”

The firm is “innovating and investing a lot” in online payments authentication solutions. It is working on technologies in line with Europe’s PSD2 regulations, including dynamic CVVs (Card Verification Values) which would be displayed on a screen on the back of the card and change for each payment. QR code-based payments are also coming, common in Asia for several years.

Vernhes sees a global trend for the unbanked coming into the financial sector as new technologies emerge. In Southern Europe the firm is issuing more cards than in previous years and Italy itself is something of a special case with a large number of smaller banks. Whereas Idemia would typically have no more than ten customers in a country, says Vernhes, in Italy they have around 50 as the sector has yet to go through consolidation.

In Italy, Idemia is working with BPER Group’s Bibanca and members such as Sassari, and has “strong relations” with “paytech” firm Nexi, providing cards for their customers.

Drayson makes Freevolt brand its overall name

Imperial College London spin-off Drayson Technologies (Europe) Limited has become Freevolt Technologies Limited, adopting its Freevolt product name. Freevolt is a radio frequency harvesting technology which captures energy from NFC, WiFi and cellular frequencies. The technology can power biometric smart cards for payments, access control and healthcare.

Freevolt recently developed reference designs for ‘plug-n-play’ radio frequency energy harvesting which they claim can deliver three times more power than technologies currently on the market.

The system has been backed by Innovate UK to standardize the references and allow Freevolt to work on developing its own biometric smart card, the battery-free S-Key.

Lord Paul Drayson, chairman of Freevolt Technologies said, “We are very pleased with the progress made by the Freevolt brand over the last 7 years. It therefore feels natural for the business to capitalise on this and encapsulate this fantastic brand, continuing to deliver market leading RF energy harvesting solutions which are 2-3 times more efficient than the closest competitor.”

Inkript unveils Zwipe-powered biometric payment card

Inkript launched its first biometric payment card with live demos at the Seamless Middle East 2021 event in Dubai, according to LinkedIn posts by staff. The Lebanon-based business is manufacturing the cards in Beirut using Zwipe Pay ONE technology.

Inkript’s recently-announced commercial order was worth $318,000, placed after the two companies formed a technical and commercial partnership in 2019 to bring Zwipe Pay ONE to the Middle East. Commercial rollout of the payment cards is expected in 2022.

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