While fingerprint sensors may be the reason for a delay in the new iPhone, that technology isn’t holding back MasterCard from rolling out new credit cards with fingerprint technology.
The company announced on Thursday that it’s successfully wrapped up a pair of trials of cards with biometric sensors in South Africa and is ready to roll out the technology to a larger audience.
The fingerprint sensor is another step in security for card holders, and MasterCard boasts that with the addition of the sensor, transactions “can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.”
To implement the technology, when you register the new card with your bank, you have the opportunity to save a digital template of two fingerprints associated with the card. This means you can use either, say, your forefinger or your thumb. But you won’t be allowed to save the fingerprint of a spouse or child for shared access.
Think of the new sensors as an increased security measure (in addition to the relatively new chip technology): while the chip is a more secure way of making a transaction over the magnetic stripe, the fingerprint sensor ads a biometric security element, meaning the card holder has to be there to approve the transaction.
That said, the additional security doesn’t mean the cards are 100 percent secure, because nothing ever is with credit cards.
Speaking to the BBC, Karsten Nohl, chief scientist at Berlin’s Security Research Labs, listed the loopholes that would enable fraudsters to still get away with using your card — “All I need is a glass or something you have touched in the past.”
According to MasterCard, an additional two to three commercial programs are expected to roll out by the end of the year, setting the stage for a wider rollout, including the U.S., down the line.
And one bright note on the roll out here in the U.S.: the new card works with preexisting EMV terminals so there won’t be a need for upgrades or changes to equipment.