Biometrics will soon make credit cards and debit cards more secure

As technology progresses, our lifestyle does too. A big aspect of everyday life is to consume, and a significant prerequisite of the latter would involve engaging in a series of transactions. Given how frequent monetary they are in our everyday lives, it is natural that we want to go through them as securely as possible for the sake of our resources. Luckily, things are about to get even better than they already are with the imminent pairing of biometrics and credit/debit cards.

EMV cards brought about new security standards

Cards have come a long way. From the old swipe magnetic stripe cards that we use to carry around to the novel EMV powered cards that we currently depend on, tremendous progress has been made in terms of efficiency and security. While the rapidity and accuracy of transactions is a key aspect of a financial provider’s success, the assurance of permeating security should not be underestimated either. People care about how safe their everyday transactions are, and that is why systems such as EMV – a standard created by Europay, MasterCard, and Visa – come in as crucial to providers and customers alike. As compared to their magnetic stripe counterparts, EMV cards are specifically designed against fraud, and therefore, difficult to clone, heavily encrypted, and equipped with several devices that help them defeat malicious activity.

Security threats keep evolving and emerging

The world of finance has always been prone to fraud, and while the arrival of banking cards might have reduced malicious activities in general, thieves have found new ways to bypass security. Magnetic stripes cards, for example, were not thoroughly encrypted and, therefore, were easily duplicated, the copies eventually being used to commit fraud. With the arrival of EMV cards, several layers of security were added and cloning was made more difficult. However, during the 2016 edition of the Black Hat conference, hackers proved that it was possible to clone EMV cards and to use the stolen information to withdraw huge amounts of money from random ATM’s in just under 15 minutes. The process would involve using a small device called a Shimmer. The latter would scan data stored on the card – like the pin, for instance – and transmit it to the attackers, who can download the stolen information on their smartphones. From this point, it becomes very easy to commit significant fraud.

Financial providers innovate to keep their customers safe

Fortunately, as malicious activity progresses, financial providers always find new ways to make their services more secure. One of the novel innovations to be expected in terms of security will be the integration of biometrics – namely fingerprint authentication – into banking cards. Fingerprint sensors have become common of most of today’s flagship smartphones, all of which allow users to use their biometrics to authorize mobile payments. So while the authorizing a payment with your fingerprint might not be a new concept, being able to do so by using your banking card only would be a great gain in security. Biometrics are unique and way more difficult to reproduce than PINs and other similar security devices.

Several partnerships are advancing biometrics within the finance world

Given how biometrics are projected to be the next big thing in the world of finance, the front players are already working together to provide the latest technology-enabled security features to their customers. For instance, Fingerprints Card AB has recently teamed up with financial giant Visa to work on a dual-interface biometric payment – involving chip and contactless cards – in the U.S. The project is meant to be initially run as a pilot, but the outcomes sound promising.

On their side, Mountain America Credit union are working with Swedish biometrics company Fingerprints to provide similar dual-interface payment facilities to their pool of customers. The latter can already enroll online to participate, knowing that they will not be charged extra for using the service at point-of-sales systems.

On all of the recent collaborations towards the inclusion of biometrics into banking cards, Thomas Rex, senior vice president, Business Line Smartcards at Fingerprints, said:

“Collaboration is key in the smart-card and payments ecosystem. We are proud to be part of these first-of-its-kind market trials with Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments. This signifies that we are entering the next phase in the execution of our strategy for dual-interface biometric payment cards.”

With how the trend is evolving, we can be sure to expect some tremendous progress in security thanks to biometrics.


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