SmartMetric creates the world’s very first biometric fingerprint and EMV secured payment card

At the Money 20/20 Conference and Exhibition held in Las Vegas, Nevada, SmartMetric unveiled the world’s first EMV chip secured payment card which is also equipped with a fully functioning biometric fingerprint scanner. 


This payment card is the first of its kind on the market

“It has taken us years of product development to create the components thin enough along with an extraordinary thin circuit board in order for us to make a fully functional biometric fingerprint scanner that is 1/4 the thickness of a credit card. This has allowed us to manufacture what is believed to be the smallest fully operational fingerprint scanner in the world that is powered by an internal rechargeable battery,” said Chaya Hendrick, SmartMetric’s CEO and President.

Along with being equipped with a fingerprint scanner, this payment card also features an EMV chip. EMV is based on the chip technology and is the global standard for credit and debit cards, It is also referred to as the ‘chip and PIN’ card. SmartMetric announced that it is excited with the adoption of EMV chips in cards globally as its biometric fingerprint scanner is built around the chip. In addition, the company added that their in-card biometric reader is able to scan, match and turn on the EMV card in less than 0.25 seconds.

Chaya Hendrick added that “SmartMetric has made some recent advances to its card including the addition of green/red/amber LED lights that show when a fingerprint has been accepted.” The card contains an internal miniature power management system that recharges itself as it is inserted into a reader while a transaction is being done. SmartMetric’s President and CEO also added that “without a rechargeable battery and sophisticated intelligent power management system inside the card, a fingerprint biometric card would not last longer than a few months.”

A biometric fingerprint scanner will provide more security for users

At the end of 2010, there were more than 1.24 million EMV chip compliant payment cards worldwide. These worked with a PIN that is asked by a reader on insertion of a payment card in one of the 15.4 million EMV terminals in the world. These ‘chip and PIN’ cards have many vulnerabilities. 

EMV cards have the same data encoded on the magnetic stripe and the chip, both are read as part of a transaction in an EMV reader, it possible to compromise the reader and thus, to intercept this reading. This will make it possible for a hacker to get the PIN. In October 2008, this is what happened to hundreds of EMV terminals. They were manufactured to be in used in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark and had been compromised in China at the time of their production or a very short time after. For a duration of 9 months, PINs and information about debit and credit cards were sent to Lahore in Pakistan to criminals over mobile phone. 

In 2010, Murdoch and Drimer’s team at Cambridge University found a flaw in the ‘chip and PIN’ system. A stolen card was connected to a fake card and to an electronic circuit, these were then inserted into an EMV terminal and any four digits were accepted as being the correct PIN. A team from the BBC’s Newsnight programme then visited the Cambridge University’s cafeteria and carried out the experiment. They used their own cards (A hacker would have used stolen ones) and connected them to an electronic circuit, inserted a fake card and typed “0000” as PIN and successfully paid. Nothing unusual was reported to banks and it was considered as a normal transaction.

SmartMetric’s card which uses fingerprint biometrics may eliminate the use of a PIN completely. This means that the EMV chip on the cards will not work unless it matches the correct fingerprint rendering it useless to anyone else. This will thus make this card the most secure one so far on the market as it will have overcome the most vulnerable aspect of chip and PIN cards. “Our engineers in Israel along with our team in the United States, have created an ingenious product that can be now used across a whole range of products from fingerprint activated credit cards to access and network log on cards that replaces passwords and PIN numbers,” said Ms. Hendrick.

Additionally, for SmartMetric, keeping its users’ biometric identity safe is at the core of their card’s design. At no occasion does a card holder’s fingerprint leave the card. The holder’s fingerprint is stored inside the card and fingerprint matching occurs on the card itself. This was an extremely important aspect of the design for the company to keep the payment card as secure as possible. 

The cards will require no additional equipment at EMV terminals

The cards are made to be compatible with the existing infrastructure. The fingerprint scanner that sits inside SmartMetric’s payment card will help turn on the EMV chip just as a PIN would, thus the PIN is now the fingerprint of the owner. As such, there is no need for any additional hardware at ATMS, banks or retail stores. This would imply that the readers will stay the same, only the cards will be changing. This will allow a faster change should the 1.24 billion payment cards used around the world want to move to this more secured card given the increasing attacks on the chip and PIN system. 

SmartMetric’s card has sparked up interest at the conference 

The Money 20/20 is the world’s biggest credit cards, payments and innovations concerning money conference. “A constant stream of bank executives have been coming to our stand at the Money 20/20 exhibition to see our working biometric fingerprint activated and user validated credit card.  More than seven banks from around the world are now in talks with SmartMetric concerning issuing the SmartMetric card as a direct result of exhibiting at the Money 20/20 Conference and Exhibition,” said Chaya Hendrick at the conference. 

 “We are excited to show the card issuing banks who are attending the Money 20/20 Conference, our leading biometric technology. At this point in time, we are able to manufacture 1 million cards a month and are able to rapidly increase this production capacity to over 10 million cards a month as demand from card issuers increases.” Ms. Hendrick added. SmartMetric is currently finalizing key distributors in strategic locations around the world in order to ramp up production of its cards.

The company is currently in talks with seven major banks about purchasing their cards in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, the United States and Latin America. The future looks bright for SmartMetric who announced that it is “evaluating various distribution partnerships with some of the largest companies in the Security and Identity market,” and has as aim “to move forward quickly in partnership with established industry players.” 

SmartMetric’s new payment card technology seems to be the next generation of banking cards, adding a strong layer of biometric security and increasing viability for its users. 

Related articles published in EMV and Smart Payment Cards :

Image: Shutterstock