Along with archrival Visa, financial services giant Mastercard is a key reason for the recent rise and expansion of digital wallet solutions like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. After all, without the official support of the world’s two largest credit and debit card issuers, there would be no fast-growing mobile payment industry.
But Mastercard has also been doing its own thing as part of a bigger effort to revolutionize the way we pay for stuff, enhance security and convenience, first by testing selfie authorization and now with a “next generation” biometric card deemed a success after an initial round of trials across South Africa.
The “new” card, currently enabled to work only for local Pick n Pay and Absa Bank customers, is genuinely so simple and straightforward we’re surprised it’s taken so long to reach this still-early stage of development.
It’s just a traditional plastic card with an embedded sensor capable of scanning and recognizing your fingerprint. Upon registration, the owner’s unique, impossible to replicate fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template stored on the card, and you can then use the “evolved” biometric technology at “any EMV card terminal globally.”
Eventually, that is, with “additional trials” to be conducted “over the next few months” in Europe and Asia Pacific, and a “full roll out” expected “later this year.” Of course, fingerprint authentication is hardly impervious to identity theft and various other security vulnerabilities and concerns, but it’s probably safer, not to mention cooler, than a PIN.