Just when you thought that the humble credit card coudn't get any more high-tech, here comes Mastercard to give you something new.
Mastercard has unveiled the next-gen biometric card that contains the latest in chip technology and a fingerprint scanner for user security and identity. The new biometric card has been tested in South Africa on two separate trials.
This is another method of using biometrics for security being developed by Mastercard. In 2016, the company was reportedly exploring the use of a selfie as password to access bank accounts.
Thumbs Up: New Mastercard With Fingerprint Scanner
In its official press release, Mastercard describes the new card's technology as based on today's fingerprint scanning technology used in mobile payments.
The company highlights the convenience and security provided by biometrics. Biometrics simply put are metrics based on the human body such as the fingerprint, iris, retina, or palm print.
"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," says Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard's president of enterprise risk and security.
Like for the usual credit card application, cardholders must first enroll their card. After enrollment, their fingerprint samples will be collected and converted into an encrypted digital template stored on the card. Voila, the card is now ready for use.
The new card works like the usual EMV chip card. The difference is that cardholders must place their finger on the embedded sensor while the card is placed inside the retailer terminal. The print is compared with the embedded template, and if they match, the cardholder will be authenticated and the transaction finished.
But Is It Really Secure?
The technology may sound appealing given the rise of fingerprint scanning technology in today's consumer electronics such as smartphones. However, one expert warns that this measure can be compromised.
"All I need is a glass or something you have touched in the past," says Karsten Nohl, chief scientist at Security Research Labs in Berlin. Just like in the movies, an identity thieves can copy a person's print in many ways. They can use a master print to break through the fingerprint authentication system or even use Play-Doh to cast a mold of the fingerprint.
Nohl however adds that the new fingerprint-protected credit card is better than existing security measures. The use of fingerprints eliminates the risks posed by PINs.
"Fingerprints have helped us avoid using terrible passwords, and even the most gullible person is not going to cut off their finger if [a criminal] asks nicely," Nohl says.