Thales Biometric Payment Card: a post-COVID security solution

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The innovation would allow banks to remove limits on contactless payments.

This week Paris-based Thales announced the launch of a new payment card that includes an onboard fingerprint sensor. The innovation promises to deliver improved security and usability as well as an end to contactless payment limits.

The Thales Gemalto Biometric Sensor Payment card (BSPC) replaces the traditional PIN with an on-card fingerprint sensor. The company also says it requires no modifications to existing point-of-sale (POS) payment terminals. But banks who want to offer it to their customers will need to implement a procedure for enrolling users’ fingerprints onto the card’s secure element.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the Tech sector to develop touchless solutions and has indirectly resulted in higher transaction levels being processed without a second authentication factor,” Thales said. “The biometric payment card allows contactless payment for any amount while safeguarding the privacy of this very personal data.”

Delivering security combined with simplicity

The contactless biometric card dramatically simplifies proximity payments and also provides an essential level of privacy and confidence. The user’s fingerprint data is loaded on the card via a simple and secure personal enrollment process, carried out from home or at a bank branch.

In addition, the banks will not share any of the cardholder’s biometric details with any third party. The fingerprint in the card’s chip only serves to provide a local authentication of the cardholder when paying contactless. Neither the retailer nor the bank get access to biometric data as it stays securely stored in the chip of the card.

In terms of security, the biometric card ultimately means that a lost or stolen card is useless without the owner’s fingerprint to authenticate a contactless transaction. In such trustworthy payment environments, there is no need to set any payment limit.

Moreover, whenever the cardholder’s cannot use their fingerprint, the use of a PIN code is still possible as a fallback solution.

Thales says their EMV contactless biometric payment card is the only solution in the industry fully certified by major EMV payment schemes like MasterCard and Visa. After a series of successful trials around the world, Thales has commercialized the solution in several countries.