Mastercard Launches Next Generation Biometric Card in South Africa

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South Africa is the first market to test Mastercard’s next generation biometric card that combines the chip and fingerprint technologies used for mobile payments today to conveniently and safely verify the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases.

“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,” said Anjay Bhalla, President, Enterprise Risk and Security at Mastercard.

Mastercard conducted two separate trials with leading supermarket

retailer Pick n Pay and Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Bank.

Richard van Rensburg, Deputy CEO, Pick n Pay said the technology creates a platform on which the leading retailer can further its strategy of personalizing the shopping experience.

“We are very proud to be the first bank in Africa to test in a real payment environment, the single-touch authentification technology that will unlock the benefits of biometrics,” the Head of Card and Payments at Absa Retail Geoff Lee said.

To sign up, a cardholder registers with their financial institution upon which their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is then ready for use at any EMV card terminal globally.

For in-store payments, the biometric card works like any other chip card. The card is dipped into the retailer’s terminal while the cardholder places their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and successfully authenticated if it matches, approving the transaction.

Biometric authentification confirms in a unique way that the person using the card is the genuine cardholder and allows merchants to maximize the shopping experience to their customers.

The next generation biometric card works with the existing EMV card terminal infrastructure and does not require any new hardware or software upgrades.

Additional trials of the card will be conducted over the next few months with a full roll out expected later in 2017.

A future version of the card will feature contactless technology enhancing simplicity and convenience.

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