Step 1. Insert credit card.
Step 2. Put your thumb on it.
Step 3. Walk away with your purchase.
At least that's the goal of new technology from MasterCard, which uses finger- or thumbprints directly on the credit card itself to verify identity when making purchases.
In a couple of pilot programs in South Africa, MasterCard has been testing a biometric credit card that combines chip technology and fingerprints. The tests were carried out at Pick n Pay, a supermarket chain, and Absa Bank, a leading financial services provider.
MasterCard said trials of the technology would soon begin in Europe and Asia and that the card could be in use in the United States by early 2018.
According to MasterCard, a cardholder enrolls their card by registering with their financial institution. “Upon registration,” said a company statement, “their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal globally.” (EMV stands for “Europay, MasterCard and Visa,” the three companies that created the standard card chip technology.)
After they are registered, users dip the card into a retailer's card reader or a bank terminal as usual while placing their thumb or finger on the embedded sensor. The sensor, which can store two prints, is powered by the electronic reader.
MasterCard says it is exploring ways for consumers to register their fingerprints remotely rather than going into a bank. However, they need to overcome concerns that unauthorized fingerprints could be entered if they are not authenticated by a bank employee.