If life isn’t quite like a Black Mirror episode yet, it’s getting closer. Visa has announced the debut of the first biometric payment cards. Those are cards that are activated with the touch of your finger, rather than a password, PIN, or signature.
Visa has partnered with Mountain American Credit Union and Bank of Cyprus to pilot a new EMV dual-interface payment card that features both a chip and a sensor to offer two different ways to do contactless payments.
Jack Forestell, head of global merchant solutions at Visa, says the future of electronic payments is here. “The world is quickly moving toward a future that will be free of passwords, as consumers realize how biometric technologies can make their lives easier.” He calls biometric credit cards part of the mission to create “a better, more secure payment experience.”
Curious about how it works? The biometric credit card will securely store a template of the user’s fingerprint inside the card itself. The cardholder will place their finger on a sensor, which will then compare the fingerprint to the one stored in the card. The card will have both green and red lights integrated into it. A green light means the cardholder is recognized and the payment can be authorized. A red light means there’s not a fingerprint match.
If you’re wondering why we need biometric payment cards, when we already have chip cards that work very well for contactless payments, here are some of the benefits touted by industry experts.
Stronger security, speed, and convenience are the top three important improvements offered by biometric cards. Fingerprint data is stored securely in the card, so that the cardholder’s data and privacy are protected. A criminal may be able to crack your PIN or copy your signature, but it’s much harder for them to fake your fingerprint. And at payment registers that are contactless-enabled, cardholders will be able to tap to pay, which makes checking out faster and easier.
A recent Visa survey of 1,000 Americans showed that 86% of consumers are interested in biometrics and ready to welcome the future. More than 65% of those surveyed said they were, in fact, already conversant with the biometric technology. Perhaps they are avid Black Mirror fans.