Corporate Cards Going Biometric

by Raymond Pucci 0

Passwords continue to go away. Now add a biometric corporate credit card to the list. As the following article reports, AirPlus looks to introduce a corporate card that uses a built-in fingerprint sensor for user authentication.

Payments provider AirPlus is testing a biometric corporate card for which users can use a fingerprint rather than a PIN at checkout, AirPlus head of research and development Uli Danz told BTN. The product is supplied by Swedish biometrics company Fingerprint Cards, which incorporates software from Swedish fingerprint software company Precise Biometrics and cards from South Korean financial technology company Kona I. Fingerprint Cards provides the fingerprint sensor and packages the card as a finished product.

Whether chip or contactless, the card comes with a visible, embedded sensor that authenticates a user via a fingerprint. The biometrics data is stored only on the card. Unlike smart card products like Center or Coin, which have to be charged, the AirPlus card charges itself every time it comes in contact with a terminal. “This energy is enough to serve the fingerprint reader,” Danz said.

The card may not be available to clients for a while because, as Danz told BTN, “In the credit card business there are a lot of rules, and the rules are not yet set for biometrics or fingerprints on card.”

Such rules may determine whether a fingerprint is needed to authenticate every transaction or only transactions over a certain amount, as with some contactless cards. Danz hopes the networks will require fingerprint authorization for every transaction, as PIN cards do, because users could feel secure that a charge won’t happen accidentally, without their authorization. “It would give you a good feeling, even for smaller amounts,” he said.

In 2016, BMO and MasterCard incorporated biometric authentication via either a fingerprint or photographs of themselves, depending on a phone’s capability. The offering was meant for risky transactions or transactions that fall outside a user’s typical spending pattern.

Biometrics have come into their own in the payments world as a fraud detection tool. However, mobile devices are typically the platform of choice given the range of possibilities including fingerprints, facial recognition, and voice. Consumers and merchants alike complained about the EMV transition, so introducing another type of card will be problematic. Whether consumers are looking for a biometric credit card in addition to their mobile payment apps remains to be seen.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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