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MasterCard has unveiled a “next generation biometric card” with built-in fingerprint sensors, allowing users to verify purchases using their thumbprints as opposed to a PIN or signature.

The biometric card works with all existing EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) terminals worldwide, and has been tested in a pilot program in South Africa.

In a press release, the company said its planning additional trials across Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months, with a “full roll out” expected later this year.


Biometric Card
Source: MasterCard


According to MasterCard, cardholders would need to enroll their cards by registering with their financial institution, where their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card.

“When shopping and paying in-store, the biometric card works like any other chip card,” said the company.

“The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand,” explained the company.

Ajay Bhalla, MasterCard’s president of enterprise risk and security, noted consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics.

“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,” said Bhalla.

MasterCard claims card issuers can also benefit from this technology, as it helps detect and prevent fraud, increase approval rates, reduce operational costs and foster customer loyalty.

The company mentioned it also has future plans for the card to feature contactless technology.