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NatWest trialling biometric credit cards

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Customers will be able to make contactless payments using fingerprint verification for transactions up to £100.

Natwest is running a three-month pilot of a biometric credit card in partnership with Mastercard and Gemalto, a Thales Company.

During the trial, 150 customers will use biometric contactless credit cards using fingerprint verification for transactions up to £100, an increase on the current £30 limit. The cards can also be used as normal in ATMs and for online shopping.

The bank has previously piloted biometric debit cards, but this will be the first time biometric credit cards have been issued.

From a retailer’s point of view, there are no hardware changes needed to accept biometric cards, so cardholders can use them at existing contactless and Chip and PIN terminals. The card is powered through the card terminal and when a customer presents a card, a green light on the card indicates that the fingerprint has been matched successfully.

Natwest said it will take as little as five minutes for customers to enrol for biometric payments. Cardholders can register from anywhere using a plastic sleeve. Once a digital fingerprint is locked onto a card, it cannot be changed. The user’s biometric data never leaves the card, it isn’t shared with the merchant or bank, and no fingerprints are stored in a cloud. This ensures that biometric data cannot be accessed or used outside the card.

Georgina Bulkeley, director of innovation at NatWest, said: “After the successful pilot of our biometric debit card we are looking to test the technology further with credit cards. This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and not having to enter a PIN not only increases security but makes it easier for our customers when paying for goods or services.”

Bob Reany, executive vice president of identity solutions at Mastercard, said: “Feeling confident that your information is protected is paramount. We, along with our partners, are building biometric cards that recognise an individual rather than a password or PIN. Biometrics are more secure, more trusted and better suited to a world that requires more frequent authentication.”