Can touch this: Samsung in fingerprint Mastercard masterplan

By Eric Johansson

Just a day after Chancellor Rishi Sunak raised the UK’s contactless payment limit to £100, Samsung and Mastercard have announced a new credit card with a built-in fingerprint scanner.

The idea is that the card will enable users to authorise safer contactless payments, reducing the need to enter PINs on potentially Covid-smeared keypads.

The new biometric card is a result of collaboration between Samsung’s System LSI Business, Mastercard and Samsung Card. The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the new card.

Karthik Ramanathan, senior vice president of cyber and intelligence solutions Asia Pacific at Mastercard, said:

“As consumers embrace the safety and convenience of contactless payments, Mastercard will leverage its cybersecurity and intelligence expertise and global payments network in this three-way partnership to enhance cardholder security with a biometric solution supporting fast, frictionless payment experiences that are protected at every point.”

The new fingerprint-enabled card will roll out in South Korea later this year. It is unclear when and if the card will be introduced in other markets. Samsung did not return requests to clarify the matter.

Finger on the pulse

Contactless payments have grown increasingly popular over the past few years, a trend that accelerated in 2020 amid fears that Covid-19 could be transmitted by transactions involving physical money and filthy keypads.

Looking at the UK, contactless payments made up 88.6% of card transactions last year, according to Barclaycard research. While most retailers closed their doors amidst the cycle of lockdowns imposed by the government, the grocery store segment of contactless payments jumped by 29.4%.

The increase was also fuelled by the government raising the limit for contactless payments from £30 to £45 early in the pandemic. That limit is now set to climb to £100 following Sunak’s second Budget, a move applauded by the country’s fintech community.

Biometrics has also grown in popularity in recent years as businesses seek to crack down on fraud, money laundering schemes, terrorism financing scams and other financial crimes.

There has also been a conscious push by regulators around the world for more secure payments. One such initiative is the European Union’s Payments Services Directive, more commonly known as PSD2, which has established rules for so-called strong customer authentication. The regulations essentially force businesses to adopt two-tier authentication systems to ensure users are who they say they are.

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