Mastercard Unveils New Credit Card with a Built-in Fingerprint Scanner

| Updated
by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
Mastercard Unveils New Credit Card with a Built-in Fingerprint Scanner
Michelle van Schalkwyk, head of brand at Pick n Pay, pays for her shopping using her fingerprint to authenticate the transaction during the first global trial of the Mastercard biometric card in South Africa. Photo: Mastercard

On Thursday, the credit card provider announced a new biometric card that will let users to complete transactions without entering their personal identification number.

Mastercard has introduced its new payment card in South Africa, following two successful trials in the country. The card combines chip technology with a biometric fingerprint scanner that can safely verify the card owner’s identity.

With a new technology, users will no longer be required to enter their PINs or sign a receipt. To prove their identities, card holders will have to simply place a thumb on the card.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

Currently, the card is being tested in South Africa, with two trials recently completed with Absa Bank, Barclays Africa’s subsidiary, and a local retailer Pick n Pay.

“We are delighted that this innovation has been trialed for the first time at Pick n Pay stores in South Africa,” said Richard van Rensburg, deputy CEO of Pick n Pay. “Biometric capability will mean added convenience and enhanced security for our customers. The technology creates a platform on which we can further our strategy of personalizing the shopping experience in a meaningful way.  We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology.”

Additional trials will be conducted in Europe and Asia Pacific in the upcoming months. A full launch is expected later this year.

Unlike PINs, which can be stolen or forgotten, fingerprint recognition is known as a safer method of verifying payments. Biometric authentication allows issuers to cut operational costs, increase customer loyalty and prevent the risk of fraud. According to Mastercard, the next version of its card will feature contactless technology, what will further simplify the checkout process.

In 2016, the company rolled out its biometric authentication app to let customers pay with a fingerprint or selfie. The same year, Mastercard partnered with its main rival Visa to add extra security to digital payments by using each other’s tokenized credentials.

Mastercard is now actively exploring the blockchain technology and is working on various applications that will make transactions cheaper, faster and more secure. Last year, it added three blockchain APIs to its developer site, urging developers to experiment in such sectors as P2P, P2M and B2B payments, trade finance and supply chain.

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