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Mastercard Could Add Fingerprint Reader to Credit Cards

April 21, 2017
3 min read
Mastercard Could Add Fingerprint Reader to Credit Cards
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The days of verifying your credit card purchases with a PIN or signature could be numbered. This week, Mastercard unveiled new technology that'll verify the cardholder's identity with something as simple as their fingerprint.

The embedded biometric technology is the first of its kind on a credit card. The tool will allow the cardholder to register and enroll their fingerprint, which is then encrypted and stored on the card. Once enrolled, the cardholder will be able to insert their chip card into a standard reader and place their thumb on the biometric reader, which will scan the fingerprint and authorize the purchase — no PIN or signature required.

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Image courtesy of Mastercard.

So far, this biometric feature has been trialled at two locations in South Africa, and Mastercard plans to test it out over the next few months in Europe and Asia Pacific. The company plans to launch the fingerprint feature in full later this year through issuers that choose to offer the technology.

As for the security of it all, according to the BBC, security experts say that while fingerprints are not foolproof, they're a "sensible" use of biometric technology. There is currently technology that incorporates the use of a fingerprint, however, it's offered on a separate scanner, meaning a store would need to have an external device in place in order for the customer to use it. This new concept from Mastercard would allow cardholders to scan their fingerprint right from their own card — no separate device required at the point of purchase.

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Image courtesy of Mastercard.

Mastercard says the new fingerprint scanning technology can be used at EMV terminals around the world — that is, when the product is rolled out and issuers sign on to include it as a feature on their cards.

Earlier this year, Visa shared a prototype of the future with wearable payment coming in the form of in sunglasses. Mastercard has already been in the market for "payment of the future," too. Last year, the company announced that it could begin to offer "selfie pay," which would allow cardholders to take a picture of themselves in order to authenticate a purchase.

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