MasterCard to Roll Out BioMetric Cards by End of 2017

We’re already used to fingerprint recognition as a means of unlocking our phones, computers, safes, and even doors – and now it’ll be making an appearance on our payment cards as well. Mastercard is putting fingerprint recognition capabilities on their cards for an extra layer of security. The technology is currently being tested in South Africa, with plans to bring the new cards to the rest of the world by the end of 2017.

All things considered, this novel, seriously secure new technology isn’t too far away. Here’s what you need to know to stay in the loop on what your consumers might be bringing to your stores in just a few months.

How Does it Work?

The user’s fingerprint is stored on the card’s EMV chip. When the card is inserted in the terminal, it communicates information to the bank – like your identity and transaction amount. As the card is inserted, the cardholder holds their finger on the sensor, and the terminal sends the information to the bank for verification.

Although this sounds like quite the process, initial testers report that it takes only seconds to authorize. If the incorrect fingerprint is being used, the terminal will simply read a “transaction denied” message and pin-pad or signature will be available as an alternative if needed.

How Do You Get One?

MasterCard holders will be receiving notification when they are eligible for this new feature. Cardholders will have to physically go to a bank or other service center to have their fingerprints scanned and uploaded to the card. Keep in mind – two fingerprints are able to be stored per card, but they must be from the same person. Although this is slightly more work than having a new card sent in the mail (as was the case with the chip card rollout not too long ago), the added layer of security and novelty of the feature indicate that this extra step may not be an issue in adoption.

What Does This Mean for Business Owners?

This new technology will only impact brick-and-mortar business locations, as this security feature is only effective with card-present credit card transactions. However, the impact will be very minimal. Business owners do not need upgraded software in order to accept biometric cards. This will come as a relief, especially in the aftermath of the EMV compliant technology shift that so many business owners are still worried about. So, rest easy knowing your countertop terminals or POS systems are safe!

All-in-all, these new biometric payment cards by MasterCard show serious promise in increasing card-present transaction security. The card itself is no thicker than previous payment cards, business owners do not need to upgrade their technology, and consumers will now be more confident than ever using their plastic to make purchases in-store.

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