Pay by fingerprint

MasterCard and a Norwegian start-up Zwipe have unveiled a prototype of the world’s first biometric contactless payment card, allowing payment confirmation by fingerprint instead of PIN.

The card, which features an integrated fingerprint sensor, has been revealed after a successful live pilot with Norway’s Sparebanken DIN, aligned to the Eika Group.

It’s designed as an answer to the complex challenge of providing a fast, convenient payment solution that does not compromise on security.

The Zwipe MasterCard payment card includes an integrated biometric sensor and the Zwipe secure biometric authentication technology that holds the cardholder’s biometric data. It contains an EMV certified secure element and  MasterCard’s contactless application.

The card is the first of its kind to combine the security of biometric authentication with the speed and convenience of contactless payment. Cardholder fingerprint data is stored directly on the card, not in an external database. After activation by a simple fingerprint scan, the Zwipe MasterCard card can be used to make contactless payments. The biometric authentication replaces the PIN entry, thus enabling cardholders to make payments of any amount, unlike other contactless payment cards on the market.

Zwipe is now working on the next generation of its card that will be the same format as a standard card and designed to work with all payment terminals for release in 2015. This new card will harvest energy from the payment terminals without the need for a battery.

At a media launch, Ajay Bhalla, President of Enterprise Security Solutions at MasterCard said his company believes people should be able to identify themselves without having to use passwords or PIN numbers.


“Biometric authentication can help us achieve this. However, our challenge is to ensure the technology offers robust security, simplicity of use and convenience for the customer. Zwipe’s first trial is a significant milestone and its results are very encouraging.”

Kim Humborstad, founder and CEO of Zwipe, added: “Feedback from our pilot with Sparebanken DIN has been very positive. Cardholders love how easy the card is to use with the added security feature. We have also had exceptionally good feedback from retailers participating in the pilot. This pilot enabled the partners to gather valuable customer feedback, experience and best practice for the enrolment and deployment phase.”

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