Mastercard tests biometric payments card in South Africa

Mastercard biometric card
PRINT IT: Mastercard’s biometric payments card is undergoing in-store tests in South Africa

Employees at Pick n Pay supermarket stores and Absa Bank staff across South Africa have been trialling a biometric card developed by Mastercard that lets them make a payment at any EMV terminal and authenticate the transaction by placing their finger on the embedded sensor. Additional trials are planned over the next few months, with a full roll out expected “later this year”.

The retailer and bank are the first to test the biometric card which is scheduled to be trialled in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months, Mastercard says. A “future version” of the card will also feature contactless technology.

“The new card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments today and can be used at EMV terminals worldwide,” Mastercard says. “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.”

Simple process

“The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor,” Mastercard adds. “The fingerprint is verified against the template and — if the biometrics match — the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.

“The card works with existing EMV card terminal infrastructure and does not require any new hardware or software upgrades. A future version of the card will feature contactless technology, adding to the simplicity and convenience at checkout.”

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” says Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security at Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security.”

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One comment on this article

  1. PINs are not as vulnerable when used with EMV cards as when used with magnetic stripes. Nonetheless, this mechanism has the potential to be both more convenient and more secure.

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