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Absa Bank to pilot new Visa biometric chip card spec

Absa biometrics trial
FIT TO PRINT: Absa Bank is introducing fingerprint readers at select ATMs in South Africa

South Africa’s Absa Bank is to be the first to develop a proof of concept trial of a new Visa specification that will enable the use of biometrics to verify EMV chip card transactions. The trial will allow Absa Bank customers to use fingerprint readers at select Absa-owned ATMs to complete transactions.

“The specification can enable palm, voice, iris or facial biometrics,” Visa says. “This first-of-its-kind technology framework is designed to work with the EMV chip industry standard to help ensure open, globally interoperable solutions.

“The specification supports ‘match-on-card’ authentication where the biometric is validated by the EMV chip card and never exposed or stored in any central databases. Issuers can optionally validate the biometric data within their secure systems for transactions occurring in their own environments, such as their own ATMs.”

“Because Visa’s design is built on the EMV chip standard, biometric cardholder verification can be seamlessly integrated with the technology used by 3.3bn chip cards around the world,” the payment network adds. “Financial institutions, solution providers and others in the payments ecosystem can rely on an interoperable and consistent infrastructure for supporting biometrics.

“Visa will offer to contribute the technology to EMVCo, the global technical body that manages the EMV specifications, to further develop and administer the standard for the benefit of the entire payment industry.”

Secure alternative

“There is increasing demand for biometrics as a more convenient and secure alternative to signatures or PINs, especially as biometrics technologies have become more reliable and available,” says Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of risk products and business intelligence at Visa. “However, to support wide adoption, it is equally important that solutions are scalable and based on open standards.

“Building on the EMV chip standard provides a common, interoperable foundation as well as encourages innovation in cutting-edge biometric solutions.”

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