Credit card users may soon be able to make transactions without the PIN they are expected to remember, after Mastercard revealed a credit card featuring a biometric fingerprint scanner.
The company had introduced the payments card in South Africa, following successful trials with a local bank and retailer which do not require its owner to enter a four-digit personal identification number (PIN). Instead, they feature a small area that could verify the card user’s fingerprints.
It is expected that the technology will lead to quicker and safer transactions, enabling a shopper to use it by simply holding the card by the fingerprint sensor and inserting it into a card reader. The technology verified the fingerprint and approved the transaction without requiring a PIN, and worked with existing payment terminals.
According to commentators, contactless cards had enabled faster payments, but transactions were limited due to security concerns.
Mastercard is looking to extend its trials and plans to fully introduce the technology this year, and bring the fingerprint sensor cards to Europe and Asia. It further added that it plans to introduce a contactless version. While contactless transactions did not require a PIN, they were limited to payments of £30 or under.
Users would need to have their finger over the sensor when making a purchase much the same way as with mobile phone payments.
According to security experts, while using fingerprints was not foolproof, it was a “sensible” use of biometric technology.
According to Mastercar’s chief of safety and security, Ajay Bhalla, the fingerprint technology would help “to deliver additional convenience and security. It is not something that can be taken or replicated,” BBC reported.
However, fingerprint sensors can be compromised.
Karsten Nohl, chief scientist at Berlin’s Security Research Labs, told the BBC: “All I need is a glass or something you have touched in the past.”
He adds that if that information is stolen, “you only have nine fingerprint changes before you run out of options”.