Mastercard’s new Biometic Cards boast fingerprint scanners and were trialled in South Africa

mastercard biometric card

Mastercard has unveiled its new Biometric cards, which use a customer’s fingerprint to authenticate purchases in lieu of a PIN.

Just last month we reported that Samsung had plans to ‘kill the fingerprint scanner‘ as the feature reached wider ubiquity, and now MasterCard has debuted its vision for a more secure authentification system in the form of a biometric card.

In some pleasant local news, MasterCard has tested its new biometric cards right here in South Africa with the help of both Pick ‘n Pay and Absa.

Read: FNB’s app now uses augmented reality to help users find eBucks retail partners

The card functions by enabling customers to enroll their fingerprint with their financial institution of choice, wherein their fingerprint is converted into a digital template store on the card once registered. The fingerprint can subsequently be authenticated by matching the template.

The system means that – contrary to inputting a PIN – the card never has to leave a customer’s hands. Further, the technology can be used with any existing EMV card terminal and doesn’t require any new hardware or software upgrades. Of course, there’s also the benefit that the system can help prevent fraud.

South African trials utilized employees from both Pick ‘n Pay and Absa to test the functionality of the system through a conventional check-out process, and a full roll-out of the system is expected to take place later this year.

mastercard biometric card

In an official press release, Richard van Rensburg – deputy CEO of Pick ‘n Pay – commented that “We are delighted that this innovation has been trialed for the first time at Pick n Pay stores in South Africa. 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.”

Similarly, Absa’s Geoff Lee – head of card and payments at Absa Retail and Business Banking – offered that “We are very proud to be the first bank in Africa to test – in a real payment environment – the single-touch authentication technology that will unlock the benefits of biometrics.”

Mastercard is set to continue trialing the technology in Europe and Asia Pacific in the months to come.

Read: FNB introduces FNB Pay; on-the-go mobile payments just like Apple Pay

What are your thoughts on Mastercard’s new biometric card? Would you feel safer using this system than a conventional PIN? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!

Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA

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