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November 15, 2018updated 16 Nov 2018 11:28am

MasterCard Set to Conduct 16 Week Trial of Biometric Bank Card in Italy

Point of Sales contact activates the card's biometric sensor

By CBR Staff Writer

Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo is due to begin a four-month trial of a Mastercard banking card containing a biometric fingerprint sensor.

The cards are issued by digital security company Gemalto. They have a built-in fingerprint scanner designed in collaboration with Zwipe and biometrics security company Fingerprints.

Using Zwipe software the card stores the user’s biometric data on the card.

Operating the card in conjunction with a point of sales (Pos) card reader, the user places their chosen finger on the square sensor as they make payment. The energy to run the sensor system on the card comes from the contact with the PoS system, thus eliminating the need for an on-board battery.

Full contact with the PoS is not required to power the card, as it uses Near Field Communication technology to transmit energy wirelessly. The card can work in a contact and contactless mode.

Speaking to Computer Business Review, Fred Martinez Gemalto’s Director of Biometrics & Advanced Payments, told us that there are two major requirements when designing the card for banks.

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Firstly only the selected user’s fingerprint should be able to authorise the card. They operate on the standard that: “Only your finger out of ten thousand possible fingers should be authorised to use the fingerprint card.”

The second is that the reader works on the first attempt: “For this requirement it has to work the first attempt and in more than 97 percent of the cases. Your finger must work almost every time with the solution.”

The sensor on the card is designed by biometric device designer Fingerprints. The Fingerprint’s FPC13000 series is an ultra-thin touch sensor with software designed for integration on to smart cards.

The sensor has 3D image quality of 508 dots per inch (dpi) with 256 greyscale values in each pixel.

See Also: Chinese Biometrics Leader ‘SenseTime’ Becomes Highest Valued AI Startup

Giovanni Memoli, Global Account Manager for Gemalto Italy, told Computer Business Review that issues around data protection were one of the biggest challenges.

“We had to spend a lot of time on privacy and compliance and any kind of GDPR data handling aspects. So probably this was more impactful than the technology itself, because of course we had to pass several levels of attention for managing the biometric data.”

“In the end this kind of technology does not require the bank or Gemalto or anybody else to handle the biometric data; because the biometric data in the end is only stored into the cards…the biometric data only lives in the hands of the card holder.”

Biometric mastercard

Biometric MasterCard

The trial will take place in banks in Milan and Rome starting from November 26th. Customers who take part in the trial will be required to register their biometric prints via tablets installed in specific bank branches.

Intesa San Paolo has over 11 million customers across 4,000 branches in Italy.

Cinzia Bruzzone Intesa Sanpaolo’s Retail Manager said in a release that: “We are proud to have taken the first step to introduce a card in Italy whose technology offers the user clear concrete advantages, in line with our choice to anticipate and facilitate the dissemination of truly functional innovations to people’s everyday banking.”

“The pilot project Intesa Sanpaolo-Mastercard, realized with the support of the Mercury Payment System, also makes use of the contribution of Gemalto, a global operator that has provided the technology for the creation of new biometric cards and the tools necessary for storing the fingerprint on the chip.”

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