MasterCard goes biometric way for better security

By Balamurugan Selvaraj Published on Apr 24, 2017 04:31 PM IST

Are you a security-conscious person? Then here is good news for you. A few days back, banking giant, MasterCard revealed new payment card featuring biometric security in South Africa and this is expected to be launched in other countries by the end of this year.

The company will retain the pin facility and adds this as an extra attribute to security. At present, the company is testing the method with the people of South Africa. Also, there is no need of extra scanners or any EKYC machines for store owners and retailers, because the fingerprint sensor is in-built in the card. And the company confirmed that retailers using old magnetic strip-only terminals need to update their machines and retailers using the swipe machines or standard chip machines can work with this new facility.

Also, to get this new facilitated ATM card, you have to go the bank's branch and ask them to scan your fingerprints for a new biometric card.  For security, only the account holder can register up to two fingerprints for biometric security and can't nominate other person to enroll the finger prints for transactions.

From the bank , the scanned fingerprints will be converted into encrypted digital template data on th ATM card's EVM chip.


The card is ready to use once the data is stored into these EVM cards. Transactions can be done at terminals across the world.

Merchants don't have to buy new swipe machines, as the in-built fingerprint scanner in the card acts as a scanner for the swipe machines. Place the card on the EVM terminal, keep the finger on the embedded sensor to pay. Transaction will be made after verification of user's fingerprint with the digital template data stored by the banker at the time of registration on the card.

President of enterprise risk and security from MasterCard, Ajay Bhalla,  has said, "Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics. Whether unlocking a smart phone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected."


To be honest, this new method can be a little risky. According to security researchers, it is very easy to fake fingerprint using photographs and biometric manipulation programmes.

In 2014, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) claimed that, "To have cloned a fingerprint of a Germany's Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, a hacker used her pictures taken with a 'standard photo camera' at a news conference."

Instead of devising new methods, researchers suggest to upgrade the existing method with outstanding security and make it confidential.