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Thales continues biometric card R&D in France, approved by Mastercard for quantum security

Thales continues biometric card R&D in France, approved by Mastercard for quantum security

Thales is developing biometric bank cards and working on eSIM technnologies at a French research facility in La Ciotat launched by Gemplus twenty years ago, the company tells La Provence. Gemplus then became Gemalto and was acquired by Thales.

The research center employs 600, among them engineers with advanced skills that focus on the development of biometric payment cards and other contactless mobile payment solutions.

The cybersecurity laboratory within La Ciotat’s design center is responsible, among other things, for improving the reliability of biometric bank cards.

According to La Provence, it was there that Thales developed the biometric technology that allows the payment of an invoice of more than 50 Euros during a contactless transaction using an imprint of a thumb or two fingers.

Further, the design center was also reportedly the cradle of the partnership between Handsome and Thales, which saw the creation of a voice payment card aimed at people with disabilities.

Finally, La Provence mentioned that the La Ciotat facility is being upgraded for 1 million euros (roughly US$985,000) as Thales develops software that works with an eSIM card to allow a person’s digital identity to be verified remotely through selfie biometrics.

The La Provence analysis comes weeks after Thales, in collaboration with Experian and Mitek, published a new survey indicating that deploying biometrics can help banks improve consumers’ trust.

Mastercard endorses first cards for defense against quantum threats

Mastercard revealed the approval of the first cards that are compatible with the new EMVCo contactless specifications, a standard designed to describe technology capable of withstanding attacks from both traditional and quantum computers. The approved cards are developed by Giesecke+Devrient and Thales.

“Technology has the potential to open new opportunities for both consumers and fraudsters. That’s why future-proofing security is critical,” comments Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence at Mastercard.

According to the executive, by bringing quantum-era technology to contactless payments, Mastercard is taking steps to future-proof transaction security and privacy protection.

“These new cards will deliver that greater peace of mind while also providing consumers and merchants a seamless transition from today’s contactless experience.”

Bhalla confirmed the new cards are designed to remain compatible with existing acceptance, network and issuer infrastructure.

This post was updated at 10:02am Eastern on October 18, 2022 to clarify that research, rather than production, is being carried out at the La Ciotat facility, and the relationship between Gemplus and Thales.

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