19 October 2017
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South Africa gives the thumbs up to biometric cards

20 April 2017  |  8736 views  |  0 Mastercard biometric card

Mastercard is preparing to roll out biometric cards combining chip technology with fingerprints after getting the thumbs up from early-stage trials in South Africa.

The new card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments today and can be applied at existing EMV terminals worldwide. To use the technology, developed by startup Zwipe, cardholders must first register their fingerprint with their financial institution for conversion into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card.

At the checkout, the cardholder 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 approved. A contactless version of the technology is also in the works.



South Africa is the first market to test the technology, with two separate trials recently concluded with supermarket Pick n Pay and Absa Bank.

Geoff Lee, head of card and payments at Absa Retail and Business Banking, says: “The technology will effectively enable our customers to rely on their unique fingerprints to make payments in a face-to-face environment. Following the test period, we will make it available to our customers in a way that is affordable, reliable, and convenient and, most importantly, extremely secure.”

Over the next few months, additional trials will be conducted with the biometric card, both in South Africa and in Europe and Asia Pacific. A full roll out is expected later this year.
KeywordsBIOMETRICS

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