MasterCard Wants Your Fingerprints To Make Life Easier

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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MasterCard announced Thursday that it’s currently testing a credit card with an integrated fingerprint sensor.

The company hopes the advanced technology can help fight fraud and eventually rid of PIN codes or signatures for financial transactions.

A consumer who wants the new, high-tech credit card must register their uniquely identifiable fingerprint, which is then converted “into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card.” A customer then only has to place his or her finger on the sensor part of the card to authenticate and complete the transaction.

Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security at MasterCard, says benefits of enrolling for a credit card with fingerprint sensors include preventing fraud and making transactions more practical.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said Bhalla, according to an official company press release. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

The claim of fingerprint technology not being replicable is certainly up for debate.

Hackers in 2013 said they bypassed the Apple iPhone 5s fingerprint reader only two days after the smartphone went on the market.

“A fingerprint of the phone user, photographed from a glass surface, was enough to create a fake finger that could unlock an iPhone 5s secured with Touch ID,” the official German-based hacker group wrote on its website.

Biometrics, the statistical analysis of genetic data — from the face, to the eyes, to the finger — is being incorporated into security infrastructures around the world in attempts to fortify both physical security and cybersecurity.

Uber, for example, often asks drivers to take a “selfie” before starting their day’s work, in order to verify that the operator of the car and service is actually them, and not a potentially dangerous imposter. MasterCard also announced in November that it was using facial recognition technology for secure online banking and shopping. (RELATED: Facial Recognition Technology Helps NY Law Enforcement Catch 100 Identity Thieves)

Another financial institution, Lloyds Banking Group, announced plans to use audio recognition technology, also called “phoneprinting,” for banking over the phone. The voice biometric technology evaluates more than 100 “unique features,” like geo-location, call type, background noise, and number history, all in real-time, which ultimately creates a unique “audio fingerprint.”

Direct fingerprint technology, like MasterCard’s, is also being used for firearms.

The “Intelligun” has a system that automatically locks the weapon when not in use and only unlocks it when the owner (or other authorized user) places their distinct finger over the sensor. (RELATED: Chaffetz Suggests Using Facial Recognition Tech For Tracking Illegal Immigrants)

Some tech experts told The Daily Caller News Foundation that such types of technology are useful, but not completely dependable.

“The important thing to recognize is that most of these biological authentication technologies won’t work as well as passwords because they can’t be changed,” Eli Dourado, former senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They are more like usernames than passwords.”

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