Mastercard unveils pioneering biometric bank card using thumbprint technology as identification

Mastercard has unveiled its pioneering biometric bank card enabling consumers to carry out transactions in shops across the UK using their thumbprint as identification.

Following on from the reasonably well received contactless payment system, through which consumers were able to press their card on a contactless payment receiver for purchases worth up to £20, the biometric bank card functions via an integrated fingerprint sensor, in an innovative move leaving critics in awe at the ultramodern steps the industry is taking.

The new card was produced in tandem with Norwegian biometric tech company, Zwipe, and having proved successful in trials in Norway, the card could be offered to lenders within a year from now. Consumers disillusioned with the monotonous tapping in of their pin numbers, whilst no doubt incredulous at the swiftness of its implementation, will welcome the notion of merely pressing their thumb to their card and flashing it over a contactless receiver.

Unlike the contactless payment system, there will be no limit on the amount that can be disbursed on any given item, such is the confidence Mastercard & Zwipe have in their biometric bank cardís unique thumbprint recognition capabilities.

Cardholders love how easy the card is to use with the added security feature,” Zwipe CEO Kim Humborstad said, whilst noting that feedback from all parties involved in the testing has been positive.

As well as appealing to a generation whose eyes light up at the prospect of hi-tech novelties which evoke memories of spy novels and sci-fi thrillers that played such a thrilling part in their upbringing, the new biometric bank cards could provide a fundamental benefit to elderly shoppers who struggle to remember their 4 digit pin number and on occasion write it down to aid recollection ñ an all too common reality carrying a tangible risk of fraud.

ìOur belief is that we should be able to identify ourselves without having to use passwords or PIN numbers. Biometric authentication can help us achieve this. However, our challenge is to ensure the technology offers robust security, simplicity of use and convenience for the customer. Zwipeís first trial is a significant milestone and its results are very encouraging:î stated MasterCardís president of enterprise security solutions Ajay Bhalla.

ìSafety and security in everyday payments is at the heart of MasterCardís business. We will continue to work with innovators, like Zwipe, to ensure we stay ahead of fraudsters and provide a seamless payment experience, as ultimately it is consumers who decide how they choose to pay.î

The aforementioned convenience to the consumer will be put to the sword by banks as early as next year, and it is up to them to devise appropriate metrics to gauge public interest in biometric bank cards and ascertain whether they will be a fad or a revolutionary product.

The card saves a userís fingerprint data straight onto it, most likely following a recorded meeting at their chosen bank to receive a fingerprint scan. Although this meeting represents a potential inconvenience which the public could turn their nose up, it is a somewhat trifling necessity and should not prove too problematic with prospective users.

The cards will not cost consumers anything to purchase, with the expense being borne by Britainís top banks instead, and they do not require a battery to power them instead harnessing energy from the contactless payment terminals themselves.

Undoubtedly outrageous in its scope, biometric bank cards indicate the ushering of a new cash payment era characterised by enhanced convenience and avant-garde innovation, amid tech pioneersí ambitions of palm vein pattern and iris recognition.

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