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Contactless payment card with fingerprint security launched

MasterCard, Zwipe card passes pilot test in Norway

Contactless payment card with fingerprint security launched

Providing a glimpse of a possible future in payments evolution, MasterCard and Zwipe —which specializes in biometric authentication—partnered for the launch of the world’s first contactless payment card featuring an integrated fingerprint sensor.

The futuristic card comes after a successful live pilot with Norway’s Sparebanken DIN, aligned to the Eika Group, as an answer to the complex challenge of providing a fast, convenient payment solution that does not compromise on security.

The Zwipe MasterCard payment card is the world’s first fingerprint authenticated contactless payment card, its makers state. It includes an integrated biometric sensor and the Zwipe secure biometric authentication technology that holds the cardholder’s biometric data. It contains an EMV (chip and PIN) certified secure element and MasterCard’s contactless application.

Media reports indicate it will be released internationally next year, although there is no announcement as to when it will appear in the United States.

The card combines the security of biometric authentication contactless payment. Cardholder fingerprint data is stored directly on the card, not in an external database. After activation by a fingerprint scan, the Zwipe MasterCard card can be used to make contactless payments. The biometric authentication replaces the PIN entry, thus enabling cardholders to make payments of any amount, unlike other contactless payment cards on the market.

Zwipe is now working on the next generation of its card that will be the same format as a standard card and designed to work with all payment terminals for release in 2015. This new card will harvest energy from the payment terminals without the need for a battery.

Ajay Bhalla, president of Enterprise Security Solutions at MasterCard, says “Our 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. Zwipe’s first trial is a significant milestone and its results are very encouraging.”

John Ginovsky

John Ginovsky is a contributing editor of Banking Exchange and editor of the publication’s Tech Exchange e-newsletter. For more than two decades he’s written about the commercial banking industry, specializing in its technological side and how it relates to the actual business of banking. In addition to his weekly blogs—"Making Sense of It All"—he contributes fresh, original stories to each Tech Exchange issue based on personal interviews or exclusive contributed pieces. He previously was senior editor for Community Banker magazine (which merged into ABA Banking Journal) and for ABA Banking Journal and was managing editor and staff reporter for ABA’s Bankers News. Email him at [email protected]

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