Samsung and Mastercard’s new credit card unlocks with fingerprint

The global diffusion of PIN-free credit cards with biometric authentication is not far away: Samsung and Mastercard are working on it together.

Samsung and Mastercard have signed a collaboration agreement that could revolutionize the world of electronic payments: the two are working together on a credit card with exclusively biometric unlocking, with fingerprint. The project follows the experiment done by Mastercard in 2017, but it will bring additional benefits to customers.

If everything goes as Samsung and Mastercard hope, already by the end of the year we will be able to see the new specimens of the credit card that, most likely, will have a vertical layout to facilitate a correct grip of the card by the payer and leave a greater surface available to the fingerprint sensor. The project, however, is not easy to complete because it requires the participation of various players, a very high level of security in the management of personal data and, finally, an accurate study of the various regulations on privacy and the protection of customer data. Regulations that, apart from the European space that can count on the GDPR regulation, are very fragmented in the world.

Samsung-Mastercard biometric card: how it will work

The idea of Samsung and Mastercard is to create a credit card that can be used with a simple fingerprint. The paying customer doesn't have to enter any PIN to unlock the payment, but only needs to place their finger on the card.

The card will integrate a security chip manufactured by Samsung LSI Business and won't require POS terminals to be updated: it will be powered directly by the device. The new 100% biometric payment card will be available by the end of 2021 in Korea, where it will be thoroughly tested before offering it on the international market.

Previous experiments

In 2017, Mastercard unveiled its first credit card with a fingerprint reader, also stating at the time that the final version would arrive within the year. However, it did not go beyond the testing phase, in South Africa. The following year, in 2018, another similar experiment was done by smart card and token maker Gemalto, which launched a contactless card with a fingerprint reader for customers of the Bank of Cyprus.

Both of these experiments have not since been followed up on a large scale, but Mastercard and other electronic transaction bigwigs have nonetheless accumulated experience and data that now seem sufficient to launch mass production of this type of card.

Unlike in the past, moreover, there is now a much wider demand for such a card because authorizing payment without typing a PIN on the POS allows for completely contactless transactions and, therefore, safe even from a health point of view.