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MasterCard launches biometric credit card

Your credit card is going to become a lot safer.

By James Nunns

MasterCard is launching a credit card with a biometric fingerprint.

The move comes after the company successfully trialled the technology in South Africa and will work the same way that it does with a mobile phone.

Users will put their finger over the sensor on the card and it can be applied at existing EMV terminals worldwide.

The technology itself has been developed by a start-up called Zwipe, and will require a user to put their finger on the embedded sensor as the card is put into the retailers terminal. The fingerprint is verified against a template in order to approve the transaction.

This is the first time that a card has included both the digital template of a user’s fingerprint and the sensor required to read the fingerprint itself, no contactless version is available yet but one is being worked on.

The idea is to help to improve credit card security, but some have raised other potential issues with regards to the biometric technology.

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Alvaro Hoyos, Chief Information Security Officer at OneLogin, said: “Whilst convenient, very few people realise the potential flaws behind the use of biometric fingerprint scanning technology.

“Fingerprint readers can easily become compromised by the likes of dirt or due to the nature of fingerprints themselves, which can become altered through blisters, cuts or burns. All of which can be a hindrance for organisations and customers looking to include the authentication method as a single form of authentication. Rather, biometric methods should be used as an additional layer of authentication while making a credit card payment.

“Fingerprint biometric scanners could also lead to the debate of privacy vs. civil rights and liberties issues. People need assurances that their fingerprint will only be used for legitimate purposes. The biometric data must only be used for the intended purpose and there must be sufficient legal protections to enforce this.”

Read more: Biometrics Fact or Fiction: The best authentication tech for the mobile-first world

Biometric technology has been growing in popularity as the technology has improved, it is already commonplace on mobile phones and is increasingly being used by banks, Lloyds Bank for example has started testing selfie biometrics.

“MasterCard’s biometric credit card is a great example of payment innovation and one that will almost inevitably have a big impact on the way that UK consumers spend in stores. We know that 40% of consumers would like to see the £30 spending limit on contactless cards lifted – a move that could be more likely, given the greater security offered by a biometric card such as this,” said James Frost, CMO, Worldpay UK.

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