Our Take on the MasterCard Fingerprint Scanner

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For years, PINs and passwords have been the only way to really protect ourselves from the cavalcade of wallet and identity thieves across the globe. While Europe and in many places across the rest of the world, have had authenticator devices for decades, which give you a personal, on the spot number based upon your account and the time of day, these have also meant making space for the device with your everyday things. MasterCard’s latest security offering, in conjunction with the biometrics company Zwipe, tackles both of those issues in one swift unveiling: Credit cards with embedded fingerprint scanners that will include contactless payment as an option as well.

credit cardInstead of entering a personal identification number (PIN), cardholders will activate their credit cards by sliding a fingertip over a small biometric reading device. And it will not be something that holds up your shopping lines either since the sensor will take less than a second to get the card working – which is often much faster than many people I have been stuck waiting behind in line while they enter wrong PIN after wrong PIN.

Concerning the technology, the MasterCard president of enterprise security solutions Ajay Bhalla said, “Our belief is that we should be able to identify ourselves without having to use passwords or PIN numbers. Biometric authentication can help us achieve this.” He continued to note, “However, our challenge is to ensure the technology offers robust security, simplicity of use and convenience for the customer. Zwipe’s first trial is a significant milestone and its results are very encouraging.”

As exciting as all of this is for those of us who, you know, get excited over anything to do with the pin in mailfinancial industry, one question remains painfully over our heads: When in the world can we, the average consumers of the world, expect to get our hands on this cool new technology? The answer – we have no clue. We are actually not even sure if they will continue to develop it to the point that it is available for public use, but we can dream, can’t we? Don’t fret, though, things actually look pretty promising.
You see, the Zwipe MasterCard has actually already begun its beta testing in (and only in) the United Kingdom. Generally, when something this fresh and new makes its way into public-use beta testing, we can then expect to see it released for the rest of the market within a year and a half at the most. What this means is that there is a pretty good chance that by the end of 2016, you too could have a fingerprint scanning MasterCard lining your wallet. That is, of course, if you are okay with having a MasterCard in your wallet.

What is really important concerning the Zwipe Mastercard biometric inclusion is the fact that it should boost the financial security for its users while, in fact, speeding up the payment process. That being the case, there are a few things that we believe we can safely assume will happen once these or some other company’s credit card biometric reading device launches in the United States.

First, security concerns that deal with physical credit cards will practically disappear overnight for those who have access to the technology. In those rare (and admittedly nerve-wracking) situations where you drop your card after making a payment by clumsily missing a wallet pocket and dropping it on the floor, whoever picks it up will not be able to just use it anywhere he or she wishes to. That person will just have to wait until he or she gets home to spend all of your money online instead. Hey, we didn’t say that this card was going to be 100 percent secure, did we? Even with a biometric device installed, you should still cancel your cards the second you realize they’re lost.

The second thing about the Zwipe MasterCard that we think will make the biggest impact on our day to day lives is the fact that they will come equipped with contactless payment chips. For the most part, we have been a fan of this technology since more and more retailers have started implementing proper readers at their checkout stands. But, when you think about the fusion of contactless payments with the fingerprint scanning activation, the possibility of a smooth check out process during the holiday season actually becomes a real possibility. Can you imagine a world where you don’t have to wait 15 minutes in line because everyone’s check out went smoothly? It would almost be like they solved world hunger with the swipe of a finger. Almost… but (obviously) not even close.

Now, if Zwipe could team up with auto manufacturers to not let bad drivers start their cars, the world will truly become a wonderful place.

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