World's first fingerprint-activated credit card coming next year
Biometrics company Zwipe announced a partnership with MasterCard Friday to create the world’s first fingerprint-activated, contact-free credit card. (Zwipe/YouTube)
Jesse Tahirali, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, October 17, 2014 6:52PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 17, 2014 6:57PM EDT
Forget your PIN – the future of credit card technology is here, and it’s sitting at your fingertips.
Biometrics company Zwipe announced a partnership with MasterCard Friday to create the world’s first fingerprint-activated, contact-free credit card.
The card aims to replace the annoyance of chip readers and PINs, but improve upon the security of the “tap and go” contactless method of payment.
Like current cards, the biometric card can activate with a simple swipe above a credit terminal. But unlike old technology, it will require an identifier unique to the cardholder -- a fingerprint.
Contactless cards right now come with a limit to their purchasing power, cutting the risk of a thief tapping up a fortune but limiting the usefulness of the feature.
The biometric card works only when the user’s thumb is pressed against the biometric scanner square, which makes it not only more convenient, but more secure than entering a four-digit PIN.
The sci-fi style of payment, which underwent a pilot project in Norway, won’t have a transaction limit either, the company says.
“Our belief is that we should be able to identify ourselves without having to use passwords or PIN numbers,” Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard, said in a press release.
“Zwipe’s first trial is a significant milestone and its results are very encouraging.”
The Zwipe MasterCard is designed to work with existing credit card infrastructure, and will still function as a chip card if contactless terminals are unavailable. The card also won’t have any clunky batteries weighing it down -- the fingerprint scanner will be able to “harvest energy from the payment terminals,” according to the company.
“While other biometric players have focused on improved scanner technology and price reduction, Zwipe has developed the leanest, fastest, and most power efficient fingerprint algorithm in the world,” Zwipe CEO Kim Kristian Humborstad said.
The company is also trying to quell the dystopian fears of companies collecting fingerprints for nefarious purposes. Biometric data is stored right on the card, Zwipe says, and not in any external databases.
According to the press release, the technology could find its way into your wallet at some point in 2015 -- but there’s still no technological solution to erasing personal debt.