Payset prespective
June 12, 2024

Is Biometric Authentication for Credit Cards the Future?

Step into the future of payment security with biometric credit cards, where your unique fingerprint ensures that nobody can use your card but you. By eliminating the need for PINS and signatures, biometric identity verification makes for faster transactions, a seamless user experience, and better peace of mind, raising the benchmark for how we pay.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Biometric credit cards reduce fraud and identity theft by ensuring that only the cardholder can use their card, eliminating the need for PINs or signatures.

  • These cards offer faster transaction times and greater ease of use, boosting consumer confidence in the safety of their financial transactions.

  • With ongoing innovations and successful pilot programs, biometric authentication is on a fast track to widespread adoption.

Introduction to Biometric Authentication for Credit Cards 

Definition and Overview 

Biometric authentication uses individuals’ unique biological traits—such as fingerprints, faces, retinas, voices or veins—to verify their identity. In the case of credit cards, new innovations are focused on fingerprint scanning. This new technology is quick, convenient and a great leap forward in payment systems security.

For years, the vast majority of payments were made using physical cash and cheques, both of which require manual handling and are susceptible to theft and loss. In the 1970s magnetic stripe cards revolutionised payments by allowing electronic processing. These cards, however, were still vulnerable to security risks such as skimming and cloning, where the data on the stripe could be copied and used for fraud. In the 1990s, the advent of EMV chip cards added a layer of security through encryption. This reduced fraud significantly, but in the wrong hands these chips can still expose peoples’ accounts to theft.

Enter biometric credit card authentication, where a credit card can only be used by the cardholder, as verified by their fingerprint, making it so that the card will quite literally only work in the right hands.

Importance and Relevance

In today’s world, the threats of financial fraud are growing. The digitization of transactions has multiplied the ways in which fraudsters can exploit vulnerabilities. Cyber-attacks have become more sophisticated, with criminals using advanced techniques such as phishing, malware, and identity theft to gain access to financial information. The widespread use of online and mobile financial services has expanded the pool of potential targets. Enhanced security measures have become essential in meeting these challenges, and biometric identification is quickly becoming the new standard.

Consumers have also come to expect greater convenience and security in their financial transactions. They want payment methods that are not only secure but also quick and easy to use. Biometric authentication meets these needs by offering a seamless user experience while ensuring that their financial information remains safe.

How Biometric Credit Cards Work 

Technology Behind Biometric Card 

Biometric credit cards add a fingerprint sensor to credit cards, alongside the well-established EMV chip. The sensor is used to quickly authenticate the cardholder's identity during a transaction. 

There are two types of matching processes: on-chip and off-chip. On-chip matching means the fingerprint is verified directly on the card, ensuring the data never leaves the card. Off-chip matching, on the other hand, involves sending the fingerprint data to an external server for verification. Of the two, off-chip matching is somewhat less secure due to the risk of data being intercepted in transmission.

Enrollment Process 

Cardholders can enrol their fingerprint data either at home or in-branch. For at home enrollment, a card reader and software provided by the bank or card issuer are used. In-branch enrollment typically involves using a secure terminal to capture the fingerprint. In both cases, once the fingerprint data is captured, it’s securely stored on the card’s chip.

Transaction Process 

During a transaction, the cardholder’s fingerprint is scanned and matched against the stored data on the card. If the fingerprint matches, the transaction is approved. This process can be used for both contactless and contact payment methods. 

For contactless payments, the card is tapped against the reader while the fingerprint is authenticated. For contact payments, the card is inserted into the reader, and the fingerprint is scanned to complete the transaction.

Benefits of Biometric Credit Cards 

Enhanced Security 

Biometric credit cards significantly reduce fraud and identity theft by ensuring that only the cardholder can use the card. The use of fingerprint authentication eliminates the need for PINs or signatures, which are prone to theft or forgery.

Convenience and User Experience 

Compared to traditional methods, these cards offer faster transaction times and greater ease of use. The quick fingerprint scan speeds up the payment process, making it more efficient for consumers and merchants.

Consumer Confidence 

Biometric credit cards increase trust in payment security. The advanced technology reassures consumers that their financial transactions are secure, boosting overall confidence in using their cards for everyday purchases.

Security and Privacy Concerns 

Potential Risks and Challenges 

Even with their enhanced security, biometric credit cards do present certain risks and challenges. Data breaches and privacy issues are concerns, as biometric data is highly sensitive and difficult to change if compromised. Technical issues such as false positives and false negatives can also happen, potentially leading to transaction delays or denials.

Mitigation Measures 

To address these concerns, biometric data can be securely stored on the card itself, reducing the risk of data breaches. Complex anti-spoofing technologies such as 3D sensing and multispectral imaging are used to ensure that the fingerprint being scanned is from a live person.

Comparison with Traditional Methods 

Compared to PIN and signature-based systems, biometric authentication comes with significant advantages. It eliminates the risk of PIN theft or signature forgery and provides a more secure and convenient way to verify the cardholder’s identity during transactions.

Current State of Adoption 

Pilot Programs and Market Trials 

Visa and other major companies are actively conducting pilot programs and market trials for biometric credit cards. These initiatives are being tested in regions around the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America, targeting demographics that are tech-savvy and security-conscious. These trials aim to refine the technology and gather user feedback to ensure widespread and trouble-free adoption.

Case Studies and Real-World Examples 

Several success stories have emerged from these pilot programs. For instance, early adopters have reported reduced fraud rates and increased customer satisfaction. Lessons learned from these trials highlight the importance of user education and seamless integration with existing payment systems, paving the way for broad implementation in the near future.

Future Trends and Developments 

Innovations in Biometric Technology 

Emerging technologies like facial and iris recognition are set to enhance biometric authentication beyond fingerprints. These advanced methods offer even higher security levels and are gradually being integrated into payment systems. Biometric authentication is also increasingly being incorporated into mobile and wearable devices, allowing for safe and seamless transactions on-the-go.

Predictions for Widespread Adoption  

Market forecasts point towards significant growth potential for biometric payment methods. As these technologies become more refined and user acceptance grows, the financial industry is expected to see a major shift towards biometric authentication. This adoption will likely lead to enhanced security measures, reduced fraud, and a more streamlined user experience across various payment platforms.


Summary of Key Points 

By using unique biological traits to verify identity, biometric credit cards offer enhanced security that can substantially reduce fraud and identity theft. They also provide convenience and a better user experience, with faster transaction times and increased consumer confidence. Successful pilot programs by major companies like Visa and Mastercard are positioning biometric credit cards to be a benchmark payment method over the coming years.

Final Thoughts 

The future of biometric authentication in credit cards is bright, with widespread adoption likely to happen quickly over the near future. Innovations in biometric technology, such as facial and iris recognition, and integration with mobile and wearable devices, are set to drive further advancements. These developments will continue to enhance security measures, reduce fraud, and increase ease of use, setting a new standard for how we pay.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a multi-currency account/virtual IBAN?

A Payset multi-currency account allows you to receive money in 34 different currencies and send money in up to 38 currencies, all within the same account.

You can deposit and withdraw funds, convert currencies at competitive exchange rates, and hold your chosen currencies to capitalize on market movements.

A Payset multi-currency account allows startups and business owners to receive payments from clients virtually anywhere in the world and pay suppliers, staff, and contractors quickly and affordably in their chosen currency.

  • Funds can be deposited and withdrawn from the account for a small fee.
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  • Once you register an account, you will be provided with a Virtual IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which makes all of these transfers easy.
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Simply log in into your account and add a beneficiary, then simply “make a transfer” in your preferred currency to that beneficiary.

Information contained in this publication is provided for general education and information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, investment or other professional advice or recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions or any other actions (or refraining therefrom); This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s financial objectives or situation. We make no warranty, guarantee or representation, whether express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or fitness thereof for a particular purpose; Use of images and symbols is made for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice to take or refraining from any action; Use of brand logos does not necessarily imply a contractual relationship between us and the entities owning the logos, nor does it represent an endorsement of any such entity by Pay Set Limited, or vice versa; Market information is made available to you only as a service, and we do not endorse or approve it; Any reference to past performance, predicted returns, or likelihood performance scenarios may not reflect actual future performance and certainly do not guarantee future outcomes.

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