Gemalto launches first biometric card for contactless payments

Gemalto launches first biometric card for contactless payments

Gemalto launches first biometric card for contactless payments

New EMV card reads the fingerprint of the person holding it and compares it with biometric details already held on the card. 

Digital security company Gemalto has announced it is to supply the world’s first biometric EMV card for contactless payments to the Bank of Cyprus.

Using fingerprint recognition instead of a PIN code to authenticate the cardholder, the new card will be compatible with existing payment terminals already installed in the country. When a customer places their fingerprint on the card’s embedded sensor, a comparison is performed between the scanned fingerprint and the reference biometric data already stored on the card.

According to Gemalto, replacing a PIN code with biometric authentication will facilitate higher value contactless transactions, which today are typically subject to strict value limits.

Read more: Fintech app Glance Pay heralded as ‘the next PayPal’

Energy and enrollment

This biometric sensor card doesn’t require an embedded battery. Instead, it is powered by the payment terminal itself. According to Gemalto, this means that its use won’t be limited by battery life or number of transactions.

Bank of Cyprus customers will be required to enroll for the cards at bank branches, where their fingerprints will be captured and the card activation process completed using a purpose-built tablet device to avoid over-the-air transmission of personally identifiable data.

“Bank of Cyprus customers will be first in the world to enjoy biometric convenience on a contactless payment card. Gemalto’s biometric sensor payment card is designed to provide maximum security and data privacy” said Bertrand Knopf, Gemalto’s executive vice president for banking and payment.

Gemalto launches first biometric card for contactless payments
Gemalto Biometric Payment Card (Credit: Gemalto)

“Using biometrics for contactless payments is a natural move as it fits in naturally with the gesture used to pay. It allows a better user experience, enabling higher transaction amounts without entering a PIN while benefiting from the convenience of contactless.”

Stelios Trachonitis, card centre manager at Bank of Cyprus added:  “Our customers will benefit from this innovative payment solution with the peace of mind that their biometric data never leaves their hands.”

Gemalto is currently in the process of being acquired by French aerospace and defense group Thales, in a deal that was agreed in mid-December 2017 and is thought to be worth around $5.43 billion.

Read more: Bank of America, FitPay partner to speed up wearable payments


Jessica Twentyman is a journalist with a 20-year track record as both a writer and editor on national newspapers and IT trade titles. Her work focuses on how smart companies use technology to achieve real business results. She is a contributor to the Financial Times, The Economist and Computer Weekly, and Consulting Editor on Diginomica.com and I-CIO.com.

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