Mastercard unveils biometric contactless card
17 October 2014 15:39 GMT

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

MasterCard has launched a "world first" contactless payment card featuring an integrated fingerprint sensor.

Developed in partnership with Norwegian firm Zwipe, the firms made the announcement following a successful pilot at a Norwegian bank.

Speaking about the launch, Ajay Bhalla, President of Enterprise Security Solutions at MasterCard said: “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.”

The firms said that the launch of the card comes after a successful live pilot with Norway’s Sparebanken DIN, aligned to the Eika Group.

In an interview with Planet Biometrics, Fredrik Gulowsen, Zwipe's EMEA Director of Sales, said: “We have a common mission with Mastercard to replace PINs and passwords. This card is part of a global strategy. It will be high volume because this is not a niche card.”

“Zwipe has unique technology - the most power efficient fingerprint algorithm in the world, and we need very little power to do biometric authentication. The little power that we do need we power harvest from card readers. It is very low energy, and high security."

Gulowsen said the card is the right thickness for use in ATMs - and that users can still use PIN numbers if they prefer. He adds that ISO standardisation is coming in 2015, stressing that it is important the card is universal so it fits with all user patterns.

While similar cards have been proposed in the past – many were not adopted due to thickness issues. Zwype told Planet Biometrics its solution uses off-the-shelf fingerprint technology from Sweden's Fingerprint Cards AB, but that they are specially adapted to enable their integration into the thin card body and withstand the temperatures needed during production.

Earlier this week, Zwipe announced new functionality that means proximity card readers, as well as smart card readers, will be able to use their cards.

Mastercard has also been active in the biometrics realm - in September it announced a 98% success rate for pilot trials of a biometric verification system combining both voice and facial recognition. The company is also working with Apple to integrate its fingerprint-enabled Apple Pay.

Zwipe says 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.

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