We’ve been hearing a lot about secure wireless NFC payment methods lately, most frequently following Apple’s announcement of Apple Pay, a wireless feature which allows payment from multiple cards using the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2.
Also, we’ve seen multiple new services heading for both the US and the UK. Here in the UK we’re going to be seeing Zapp, an app based payment system for mobile, hit the big supermarkets, whilst in the US, as well as Apple Pay, products like the Plastc payment card are already being promised, also for 2015.
Now Mastercard is ‘chipping’ in with their latest addition to the swelling lineup of cards designed to interact with NFC payment facilities. MAstercard’s idea is simple – take the existing idea of a contactless payment card which is already used in the UK – and put a fingerprint scanner on it.
There have already been concerns over the contactless payment system like we have here in the UK, it’s not very secure at all, allowing anyone to activate the system. Retailers have created a precautionary 25 pound limit on transactions using the cards, but it’s not much consolation if multiple transactions are made which are under the limit.
Mastercard’s idea basically eliminates the need for this limit, requiring biometric fingerprint data to identify the card’s owner. The card draws wireless power from the reader, verifies the identity of the user via their fingerprints, then authorizes the transaction.
The card eliminates the need for a PIN to be entered, instead simply jamming your thumb on the reader and waving it at the terminal is enough to do the job. The card also includes an EMV chip which keeps it up to the same standard as current chip and pin cards, in case a wireless reader isn’t available. For added security, fingerprints are stored on the card as opposed to an external database.
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The card is being developed by Mastercard in concert with Norwegian company Zwipe, and the two have announced a prototype is already up and running. When the big slew of contactless cards are released to the general public next year, a more stable, revised version of the fingerprint scanning card will be made available.