In 2019, there are many ways to make a purchase: you can tap your phone, enter a PIN, or sign a receipt.
Soon there might be a new one: Netherlands-based digital security company Gemalto is working on a debit card that can make secure purchases through a built-in fingerprint biometric scanner. Hold your thumb over the scanner on the card, tap it at any tap-to-pay-enabled terminal, and the transaction will go through like normal.
And the futuristic payment system is about to get a real-world test: United Kingdom bank Natwest is kicking off a trial of 200 customers with the new cards next month.
Gemalto claims your fingerprint data never leaves the local storage on the card itself, making it less vulnerable to hackers. But no system, biometric or not, can guarantee your personal information is safe — even fingerprints can be spoofed or stolen.
But compared to a PIN — a simple string of numbers — paired with a chip on the card, the complexity of a unique fingerprint is likely to be more secure. In fact, Gemalto decided it’s safe enough to get rid of the usual maximum purchase limit of tap-to-pay transactions that usually apply when purchases are made without a PIN.
Will it catch on? It’s hard to say. But a fingerprint scanner built into the bank card itself is an elegant concept for the future of financial technology.