Considering the new field of biometrical cognition and mobile payment methods, I thought this technology would replace credit cards in the future – obviously, I was wrong: Mastercard has started to experiment with a new concept and is adding biometrics to its credit cards.
Last week Mastercard released a press statement, which says their “next generation” cards will include fingerprint scanners. This is supposed to secure identifying their cardholders while shopping
What is the new Mastercard supposed to look like?
The new biometric card will look similar to your everyday credit cards. They will have the same thickness and it will be possible to use them with regular EMV terminals – the devices which are able to read the card chip. They will not work with swipe-only machines though. Compared to previous versions of the card, it lets their owners scan their fingers in order for them to not have to use a PIN and/or sign in anymore. Yes, you read that correctly: The card does not just include your digital fingerprint but also the scanner which makes the use of separate device redundant. This is quite good for merchants since they do not have to rent/buy a new device.
Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics. Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It is not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected. — Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise and security at Mastercard
Wait a moment, it’s not possible to replicate fingerprints?
The usage of biometrics can be quite convenient, especially when unlocking an account or paying for goods. It also can give you the illusion that it’s more secure than using a PIN or a password. However, the claim of Ajay Bhalla that fingerprints can’t be replicated or copied is plainly wrong. It’s been proved that it’s possible to steal fingerprints (reuters.com, wired.co.uk) and to replicate (YouTube video) them, too. And – unlike passwords or a PIN – you’ll notice that it’s rather difficult to change your fingerprints if necessary. Nonetheless, security experts believe in fingerprints are more secure than a PIN or password: The effort for thieves to steal a fingerprint will be way higher than for stealing a password or PIN. Maybe it just comes down to the question of effort and benefit. 🙂
Mastercard is going to test their new cards in South Africa first. After the initially testing period, the new credit cards are supposed to be issued in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. I’m curious to see if these cards will really make it to Europe. Would you use them – or would you continue to trust in your PIN and your signature?