Does your debit card have a fingerprint sensor?

If you have read the subheading, then you must be wondering as to how the simple implementation of the ultra-common fingerprint sensor on your debit card will change the banking experience? Consider your cash withdrawals during the period of “demonetisation” in 2016. You must be remembering that it was a tricky method to enter your debit card PIN while hiding the num-pad of the ATM machine from prying eyes behind you, pushing each other to get a glimpse of your transaction details.

If you remove that num-pad based PIN entry from the scene, no one in the world would get a clue about your debit card PIN, apart from your bank. This implementation would also make card payments at restaurants or shopping malls a lot more secure.

MasterCard is keen on embedding this basic technology on its line-up of credit and debit cards to enhancing the user security. Not only security, a biometric authentication would make payments faster, in the same way as unlocking your smartphone is just a tap away instead of those complex mazes that you used (many of you still do it) to set as your pattern password.

The demo cards are currently being tested in South Africa and MasterCard plans to roll it out to the world by the end of 2017. The cards are not any different from your regular credit/debit card that you carry in your wallet. While the basic architecture remains mostly the same, you will notice only a matte coloured sensor patch on the top left corner of the card.

Using it is even simpler. All you need to do is place your authorised finger on the sensor patch of the card while the payment terminal/machine asks for your confirmation for the transaction that you are undertaking. Users can have up to 2 fingerprints saved on the card’s sensor for authentication purposes. Note that you cannot save anyone else’s fingerprint on your card.

As for the vendors, there’s no need to upgrade any hardware, unless you are still using the magnetic-type swipe-based transaction machine on your billing desk.

While MasterCard is planning a global roll-out of the fingerprint-enabled debit card, you can be assured that it will take a few years due to the additional time being taken by banks and financial institutions to get their approvals from the management for the implementation of this new convenience.

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