Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards are used in more than 200 countries and process billions of payments every year. They’re looking to create bank cards that use your fingerprint instead of customers entering their PIN to authorise a transaction.
The fingerprint scanner cards are currently in trials, if they’re successful we could say goodbye to the traditional chip and PIN. The Vice President at Mastercard has said that ‘A four-digit PIN is pretty good security – obviously, six, seven or eight digits are better but it is very hard for people to remember… the security is going to be better than a PIN’.
Biometric cards are a mix of fingerprint scanners, similar to those found on smartphones to unlock and prove the identity of the user. The cards will still use the standard EMV (Europay Mastercard Visa). The biometric cards do not require a battery, they will use the power from the card reader.
Mastercard began the biometric card trial in South Africa in April 2017. The credit and debit card looks exactly the same as any other bank cards we have but they have a small biometric scanner in the top corner. When a customer places their finger on the sensor, the scanner will be able to recognise if the fingerprint is a match with the data stored in the system. If it is a match the payment will be authorised.
Both Mastercard and Visa are continuing to trial the biometric cards in a number of countries and have said that if it is successful, it could be rolled out across Europe. Ultimately, payments will be more secure, people often forget their PIN numbers but rarely do you go without your fingerprints.