On-card biometric for contactless payments tested in first commercial pilots

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Visa has initiated pilots with Mountain America Credit Union and Bank of Cyprus of a new EMV dual-interface (chip- and contactless-enabled) payment card, making these the first commercial pilots to test an on-card biometric for contactless payments.

on-card biometric contactless payments

With biometric authentication gaining momentum and the EMV migration well underway, the biometric payment card pilots will test the use of fingerprint recognition as alternatives to PIN or signature to authenticate the cardholder.

“The world is quickly moving toward a future that will be free of passwords, as consumers realize how biometric technologies can make their lives easier,” said Jack Forestell, head of global merchant solutions, Visa Inc. “As electronic payments expand dramatically around the world, Visa is committed to developing and investing in emerging capabilities that deliver a better, more secure payment experience.”

How it works

When a cardholder places their finger on the sensor, a comparison is performed between the fingerprint and the previously enrolled fingerprint template securely stored in the card in order to authenticate the transaction. Green and red lights are integrated into the card to indicate a successful or unsuccessful match. Additional benefits of the biometric payment card include:

Strong security: The biometric data is stored and matched locally in the card to ensure that a cardholder’s data and privacy is protected. Since biometric data is unique to each person, it’s substantially harder for criminals to commit fraud.

Speed and convenience: The pilot cards are EMV contactless-enabled, allowing cardholders to tap to pay quickly and easily at contactless-enabled terminals.

Alternative to PIN or signature: A simple authentication using a fingerprint can be performed directly on the card, offering an alternative to PIN or signature.

Hardware upgrades unnecessary: The biometric card is immediately compatible with existing payment terminals that accept contactless- or chip-based payments around the world.

Consumer interest

In a recent survey of 1,000 Americans about perceptions of biometric authentication, Visa found that consumers continue to have a strong interest in new biometric technologies. Highlights from the survey include:

  • 86 percent of consumers are interested in using biometrics to verify identity or to make payments, and more than 65 percent of consumers are already familiar with biometrics.
  • Consumers were most familiar with fingerprint recognition, with 30 percent having used it once or twice and another 35 percent using it regularly.
  • Of all the biometric authentication techniques queried, fingerprint recognition ranked the highest (50 percent) in terms of desired payment authentication method for in-store usage.