Mastercard has unveiled a new biometric card which is said to combine on-card chip technology with fingerprint scanning technology in order to verify the cardholder’s identity for transactions. The new cards will be first trialled publicly in South Africa.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,”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.” said Ajay Bhalla, President, Enterprise Risk and Security, Mastercard

Mastercard has already concluded two separate trials with the biometric-enabled cards in South Africa, with retailer Pick n Pay and Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa. During these trials, some employees of both companies were involved in testing how the cards can improve the checkout process.

“We are delighted that this innovation has been trialled 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 personalising the shopping experience in a meaningful way. We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology.” said Richard van Rensburg, Deputy CEO of Pick n Pay.

Mastercard unveils next generation biometric card.

According to ABSA's Geoff Lee, who is the Head of Card and Payments at ABSA Retail and Business Banking, the fingerprint scanning card technology which allows for single-touch authentication will effectively enable their customers to rely on their fingerprints to make payments. He added that ABSA will roll-out the biometric cards to customers once the tests are concluded. "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,” said Lee.

Among some of the benefits of the new Mastercard biometric cards is that they will help with detectIng and preventing fraud better than the currently available card.

According to Mastercard, this is how the card will work:

Mastercard biometric card

A cardholder enrols 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.

After the announcement of the South African trials, more trials are being planned by Mastercard in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months.

Share this via: