Mastercard is testing new uses of biometrics technology in their products. They’ve just finished the first series of trials of a biometric card in Johannesburg and are planning to carry out further research in Europe and Asia Pacific. The future is now and credit card transactions are about to become even more secure and the verification process more fool-proof.

How does a biometric card work? It’s got an embedded fingerprint reader. When you get the card, you encode your fingerprint on the card and it’s stored as an encrypted digital template. That’s it. From that moment on, the card is ready to use in any EMV card terminal in any place in the world.

The payment itself is easy as well. It works like any other card payment. Simply instead of using a pin code, you scan your finger on your card and if the biometrics match – the transaction is authorised and accepted. You no longer need to struggle with remembering all your pin codes. Instead of memorising a string of random numbers, all you need is to put your finger on the embedded sensor and the technology does all the magic by itself.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” says Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

It’s true. While in the past, people might’ve been much more negative about tech novelties, biometrics seem to take the world by storm. The fingerprint is a fast way of dealing with security. What’s more, unlike passwords or pin codes, fingerprinting is not something people can steal. It provides a unique layer of safeguards.

At the same time, implementation of these cards doesn’t come with any additional costs to the merchants. They don’t need to change their card terminals; biometric cards work perfectly well with existing EMV terminals. All the new tech solutions are embedded in the card itself.

For the issuers, biometrics mean better detection and fraud prevention and an increase in the approval rates. We are only human after all. Everyone can make a mistake in the pin code, simply by mistyping the code in the terminal. By eliminating the pin code, that issue is taken out of the way.

Right now, only a traditional chip card is being tested. However, Mastercard is planning the same function for contactless cards for us to make transactions even more comfortable and convenient for the customers.


Mastercard is impact’17 Strategic Partner.

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