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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

NatWest to trial biometric credit card

NatWest is to begin a three-month trial of biometric fingerprint credit cards with 150 customers.

See article

Biometric Credit Cards. Innovative? Yes, raises a few questions though.

Did you see this news?

NatWest to trial biometric credit card

NatWest is to begin a three-month trial of biometric fingerprint credit cards with 150 customers. The biometric credit cards will offer contactless payments using fingerprint verification for transactions 

At the outset, it seems innovative and interesting. I extend my best-wishes to the Natwest team for this new initiative. However, I'm very curious for some details. 

Can someone who understands this better, clarify a few points from a technology/feasibility point of view? 

1. These cards are not really cards, are they? Won't they be needing a sensor, firmware, memory, computing power and some battery built into them? If yes, it becomes a mini-gadget in itself, not just a Simple-Card.


2. I am assuming that the fingerprint-verification is done at the card and not relayed to the server for a validation.How would one update (or program) his fingerprint into the card? Correct me, if I am missing something. 


3. Couldn't this use-case be built into the Mobile App? Isnt it easier to exploit the inbuilt-sensors instead of duplicating resources?  




Comments: (2)

Jan Zaborsky
Jan Zaborsky - Innovatrics - Bratislava 14 October, 2019, 12:271 like 1 like

1. Current cards already do contain microchip, memory and antenna (contactless). The microchip is used for processes such as encryption, so no "plaintext" data can be extracted from the card. The cards do not need to have a battery - a current induced from POS terminal can be enough to power the required functions.

2. Yes, the data is validated locally, not by a server, which significantly expands potential use cases (no internet connection is required). The data can be transmitted to the on-card storage via radio signal. In the case of fingerprint cards, the enrolment can be done either in the bank or through a dedicated terminal. Usually once the required data is transmitted, the storage is rendered read-only, so that the fingerprints cannot be changed later by fraudsters.

3. Globally, the card acceptance is much more widespread than mobile payments. Fingerprint cards function just like normal cards, no upgrade of POS terminals are necessary. Both apps and cards have their uses and in brick-and-mortar world the payment via card still makes a lot of sense.

Jayanth Jagadeesh
Jayanth Jagadeesh - EdgeVerve - Bangalore, India 15 October, 2019, 04:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Wow. I never knew, POS-terminal induced current can power fingerprint verification. Always thought, it would need more power. 

Makes sense, the logic of making the fingerprint 'non-editable' and also the relevance of the cards in the brick-and-mortar world. 


Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jan Zaborsky. Have a good day.