Mastercard's new credit card has a built-in fingerprint scanner

20 April, 2017, 13:20 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • Enlarge Image An early image of biometric plastic.                  Mastercard

It has the usual chip that nearly call card readers these day use to conduct transactions. The Secure Enclave is walled off from the rest of the hardware and the OS, meaning iOS and other apps never have access to user fingerprint data, it's never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else.

Mastercard says that the technology will work with any Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) card terminal globally and has been testing the tech here in South Africa with the help of Pick n Pay and ABSA Bank. It is now planning more trials over the coming months and "a full roll out" in the country is planned for later in 2017. "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". Even if that happens, though, you'll still have to wait for your bank or financial institution to get on board.

During a recent demo, I tried to use a MasterCard rep's biometric card with my finger, and received a "Transaction denied" message from the test payment terminal. For now, people will need to register their fingerprints at a store or bank branch, but Mastercard is already working on a way to do that from home. The fingerprint sensor is a small, thumbnail-sized rectangle that sits at the top right corner, and is easily accessible when you stick the card into a payment terminal.

The fingerprint is verified against the template and - if the biometrics match - the cardholder is successfully authenticated.

That makes these the first cards to combine both the template and the sensor, as previous biometric cards needed to be used with a separate reader in order to work.

Additionally, a future version of the card will feature contactless technology.

This rollout comes after it achieved two successful trials in South Africa. "We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology", says Richard van Rensburg, Pick n Pay Deputy Chief Executive Officer.

ABSA goes on to add that following the test period it hopes to make Mastercard's new card available to customers.

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