MasterCard Introducing Fingerprint-Scanning Credit Card

Photo (cc) by Håkan Dahlström

If you are wary about swiping your credit card to make a purchase, you’re not alone.

In light of the massive data breaches that have plagued a number of retailers, some consumers are understandably anxious about checking out with plastic. A new credit card from MasterCard is aimed at providing consumers with peace of mind when charging their purchases.

MasterCard is working with Zwipe, a fingerprint technology company, to offer a new payment card that includes a built-in fingerprint sensor. According to a press release, it will be the world’s first credit card to use both fingerprint authentication and contactless technology. The credit card will be released in 2015.

It won’t include a PIN number or magnetic strip. An EMV secure chip allows for a contactless payment, where users tap the card against the terminal or insert it into a chip reader. According to Slate:

Here’s the crucial component: For either payment method to work, you have to have your thumb covering the fingerprint sensor to verify your identity against the biometric data stored on the card. Instead of signing something or entering a pin, the card tells the terminal that you are the same person who holds the account and that the transaction can go through.

The credit card is safer, in theory, because it holds your biometric data on the card itself, not on an external database. Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard, said in a statement:

Our belief is that we should be able to identify ourselves 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.

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