Citing convenience and security as its motivations, Mastercard has introduced a credit card with an integrated fingerprint scanner. That means users can make purchases using the digits on their hands rather than those on their mind, as is becoming increasingly common on today's mobile devices and computers.
The biometric credit card has actually been in the works for a while, with Mastercard revealing last year that it had been developing fingerprint authorization alongside facial-recognition software. The latter, which raises the prospect of users paying for things with a selfie, is still a ways off. But the company says the former is ready to roll.
The card will work with all existing EMV terminals (those standard chip-card machines), with Mastercard claiming retailers won't need to install any new hardware or software. After registering the card with their bank, along with a fingerprint that is converted into a digital password and stored on the card, users simply insert it into a machine just like a regular chip card.
But instead of entering a pin or signing their name, they place a finger over the sensor on the card and get on with their day. For now, the card has to be slid into the machine (just as it would be to use a chip), but Mastercard says a contactless version is coming in the future.
To begin with, the card was trialled at a bank and a supermarket in South Africa. Further trials are to take place over the coming months ahead of a full rollout later in the year.
"Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics," said Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, Mastercard. "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."
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