Mastercard has unveiled the next generation biometric card which will be a combination of the plastic card along with the biometric sensor. This is something that will deal a hard blow to PIN. Yes, some of us might already be using contactless payment system but again the PIN is compulsory for high-value transactions. The technology is currently in pilot phase and is being tested in South Africa. Popular retailer chains like Pick n Pay along with a Barclays Africa subsidiary have been roped into the project.
The biometric card works in a similar fashion as the Apple Pay or Google Pay and is touted to be relatively more secure than the traditional cards. The best part is that the new cards can be used at EMV terminals worldwide once it rolled out.
This is what Ajay Bhalla, President of Security, Mastercard had to say “Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics” he further added that “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.”
In order for this to work, the customer has to register themselves with the biometrics at the financial institutions and once registered the fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template which is stored in the card. After the registration process is done one can use the card across EMV. In physical stores, the Biometric card works like any other card with the only difference being the way one would authenticate their card. The authentication is done by placing their finger on the embedded sensor and the same is verified against the template stored in the card. With this in place, the card has to be operated in the user’s presence and thus avoid fraudulent transactions.
As explained earlier Mastercard Biometric will work with the existing EMV/POS machines and the storekeeper’s don’t need to upgrade the hardware. This also eliminates the need to remember ones Pin and can enhance the shopping experience. That said using duplicate fingerprints for the authentication purpose is not something new and we have had security researchers demonstrate the same on an iPhone Touch ID hardware. However, Modern Biometrics have found a safer method in which apart from the Fingerprint the sensor also checks for other vitals like the blood circulation and pulse pressure.
In all likelihood, a card with Biometrics in India may very well be linked with the Aadhaar just like how the authority is trying to implement the same on a smartphone. That being said with the advent of any new technology arises a novel security risk and this is something that needs to be mitigated in order for the technology to work seamlessly.