Home Business Mastercard unveils fingerprint activated credit card, cites security advantage

Mastercard unveils fingerprint activated credit card, cites security advantage

Mastercard's fingerprint scanning credit card marks the first large scale application of biometric security in Africa.

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Mastercard unveils fingerprint reading credit card

Mastercard pilots a credit card that will contain in it a fingerprint scanner. As a continental first in Johannesburg, South Africa, this technology is progressive, but not disruptive. According to their regional president Mark Elliot, the technology apparently achieves security and convenience.

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Mastercard fingerprint authorization.

How it works

The users must first set up the card with help from their bank. The bank, or an equivalent financial institution, will record their prints and store it into the cards. These credits cards carry a sensor that scans its surface when it detect the finger. So when it is time to authorize a payment, a user may simply touch the card to sign. Once the cards scan the finger, it will correlate that to the stored templates. It is important to note that this form of authorization does not always replace a good password.

Fingerprints have the natural advantage of being easy to use, and relatively secure. But in recent years, the security offered by the randomness of the human finger is in question.

Biometrics – a gullible sentry

There have been various cases to prove that biometric security is not infallible. Several people have found various ways to circumvent biometric sensor security in modern smart phones. For example, BBC reported Iris hacking, a few years back. The Verge even claims it to be the single weakest point of security in a smart phone. There was also a viral YouTube video about TouchID hacking.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM8b8d8kSNQ[/embedyt]

Therefore it doesn’t seem fully convincing that the technology is built for absolute security. However, it makes sense that financial transactions should be authorized based on identity and not information. And the credit card company has innovated in using biometrics for security in Europe. It will be interesting to see how this catches on in North America and Asia, as other modes of identifying users progresses.