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MasterCard launches biometric card with fingerprint reader

MasterCard, after successful trials in South Africa, has launched a biometric ATM card that uses a consumer’s fingerprint to enable transactions at retailers. The trial was done with ABSA Bank (a subsidiary of Barclay Bank) and Pick n Pay retailers in South Africa.

The biometric strip is placed on the upper end of the card and whilst making payments, the cardholder needs to place their finger on it so that the transaction can go through successfully.

The new MasterCard biometric card is still the same size as normal, and will still have the chip and pin functionality to allow withdrawals at ATMs or swiping for purchases. To use the biometric strip though, retailers will need to have a biometric machine that detects the card and its owner’s fingerprint.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said 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.”

How it works ( Source: MasterCard)

A cardholder enrolls their card by simply registering with their financial institution. Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal globally.

When shopping and paying in-store, the biometric card works like any other chip card. The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.

Richard van Rensburg, deputy CEO of Pick n Pay said :

“We are delighted that this innovation has been trialed for the first time at Pick n Pay stores in South Africa. Biometric capability will mean added convenience and enhanced security for our customers. The technology creates a platform on which we can further our strategy of personalizing the shopping experience in a meaningful way. We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology.”

Geoff Lee, head of card and payments at Absa Retail and Business Banking said:

“We are very proud to be the first bank in Africa to test – in a real payment environment – the single-touch authentication technology that will unlock the benefits of biometrics,” The technology will effectively enable our customers to rely on their unique fingerprints to make payments in a face-to-face environment. Following the test period, we will make it available to our customers in a way that is affordable, reliable, and convenient and, most importantly, extremely secure.”

Additional trials are being planned in Europe and Asia and a consumer rollout is expected by the end of 2017 through issuers that choose to offer biometric cards.

Quote Sources: MasterCard


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