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R&D Craze in Biometric Credit Cards
Biotech/Finance Convergence
R&D Craze in Biometric Credit Cards
  • By Cho Jin-young
  • November 28, 2014, 02:31
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Research and development efforts for biometric credit cards, which confirm a user's identity in financial transactions using fingerprints or iris scanners, are being actively developed worldwide.

According to sources in the financial and IT industries on Nov. 27, MasterCard recently announced the world’s first fingerprint-based credit card that combines biometric authentication and contactless payment technology, in partnership with Zwipe. Using fingerprint sensors, this card recognizes the fingerprint of a user within one second, compares it with those stored in the card, and finally confirms the user's identity. Some Norwegian banks have already introduced the credit card for testing.

Researchers are actively working to integrate biometric technology into credit cards. Global research consultation body Fast Identity Online (FIDO) is focusing on the development of a technology for biometric-based credit card payments. FIDO is a non-governmental organization mainly composed of researchers at PayPal and Bank of America who developed One Time Password (OTP) tokens and security keys in 2007. With the participation of researchers from major IT companies such as Alibaba and Visa this year, the organization is concentrating on studying the fingerprint recognition and authentication processes.

The home page of FIDO shows an authentication method. When people purchase products online via FIDO's home page, they are notified of the payment amount through the mobile device that recognizes the fingerprints of the user for authentication. Even though these technologies have yet to be commercialized, global card companies like Visa or MasterCard might preemptively introduce something similar.

The FIDO is planning to go beyond fingerprint recognition, and to unveil a new authentication method using the voice or iris. The method will create encoded keys on the mobile device and make it impossible to make a payment by others.

In contrast, the local financial sector is passive about the issue. Hence many point out that foreign firms are expected to take the initiative in biometric-based payment technology, and local companies are likely to lose market dominance.

A source in the financial industry explained, "We do know that foreign companies are actively seeking to establish a biometric-based payment platform. But biometric related research imposes a big burden for us, since it could become a sensitive issue stemming from the conservative management policies of local financial companies." The source concluded by saying, "It seems that active research is badly needed for large banks and IT firms.”