In a global first, Mastercard has announced a nextgeneration biometric card that combines chip technology with fingerprints to verify a cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases.
South Africa is the first market to test the new technology, with two separate trials recently concluded. Employees from Pick n Pay and Absa Bank tested the cards, and the potential ways convenience and security could contribute to the checkout process.
Over the next few months, additional trials will be conducted and Mastercard expects a full roll-out later this year. The new card builds on fingerprint-scanning technology used for mobile payments and can be used at pay points worldwide.
Although the technology will be available to all financial institutions that issue Mastercard cards, Absa was involved in the trial phase and Geoff Lee, head of card and payments at Absa Retail and Business Banking, confirmed the bank would roll it out to its customers subject to successful testing. “Following the test period, we will make it available to our customers in a way that is affordable, reliable, convenient, and – most importantly – secure,” said Lee. So, how does it work? 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 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.