Over the past couple years, we’ve become truly accustomed to completing payments through biometric sensors integrated into our smartphones. But, there has always been a middleman, an application — be it Apple Pay or Android Pay — which helped mediate the transaction until today.
Now, Mastercard is looking to transform our plastic cards into complete payment platforms themselves. Thus, it has today taken the wraps off its latest credit card, which comes integrated with a fingerprint scanner at the bottom. You don’t require to remember any PINs, passwords or even digital signatures to authorize the transactions. Instead, just place your registered finger on the sensor and complete payments in an instant.
Speaking of this integration, Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, Mastercard said,
Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics. 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.
As for how the biometric system works, you’ll simply need to register your fingerprint while signing up for the credit card with your banking institution. The fingerprint will be converted into an encrypted digital template and stored on the card delivered to you for daily use. The miniature fingerprint reader on the card (which looks like every other credit card with just a black box at the bottom) can store up to two fingerprints on its chip.
Now, while you’re out shopping, you can just insert your biometric-enabled credit card into the payment terminal while placing the registered finger on the fingerprint reader. The terminal recognizes the card, which is then verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated. The transaction is cleared in an instant, without the need for extra efforts. These cards are supported by traditional payment terminals and not magnetic stripe-only ones.
Mastercard has already conducted two pilot experiments for these credit cards — one with Pick n Pay, a leading supermarket retailer, and Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa. These cards are now starting to roll out the cards to the masses in South Africa. While currently, you need to visit a bank/store to register your fingerprint, the company is working on a method to perform registration at homes.
Talking about their involvement in the trials, 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.
Who would’ve thought such an innovation was still available for exploration in simple plastic cards, but Mastercard thinks it’s worth a shot. At least the credit cards will now be more secure and free of the hassles of security PINs. If you like the idea of biometric credit cards then comment your affirmation down below.