Apple isn’t the only company using biometrics to authenticate payments and purchases – Apple Pay partner MasterCard wants to make fingerprint scanning something even people without an iOS device can use to digitally ‘sign’ for contactless transactions. The credit card company is launching the “world’s first” fingerprint-enabled credit card with technology partner Zwipe, which will have the exact same dimensions as existing plastic payment cards, but with an embedded fingerprint scanner.
Like Apple’s Touch ID, the card stores any fingerprint data records only on the card itself, rather than transmitting them to the cloud or MasterCard’s servers, which makes it far less likely that the information can be intercepted and stolen. Activation occurs via a simple initial scan setup process, and after that, the chip-based cards use a successful scan match to complete payments, instead of the usual manual entry PIN.
Power for the scanner is actually provided by the payment terminals they work with, every time they’re used, which means they don’t require conventional charging. As you’ve probably guessed based on the fact that it uses chip-and-pin, it’s going to be rolled out in markets outside the U.S. first starting in 2015, but since the U.S. is finally moving to EMV, expect it to come there, eventually, too.
Clearly Apple’s hoping that it can convince users to ditch the cards altogether in favor of a centralized storehouse of their payment methods on the iPhone, but it’s smart to see credit card makers move into biometrics, provided they work well and thus offer actual convenience, instead of added hassle.