On Friday, Ajay Bhalla, President of Enterprise Security Solutions at MasterCard, said that consumers should be able to identify themselves without having to use PIN numbers and passwords. Biometric authentication is expected to be the key technology for this type of security, which is what the company is using in its partnership with Zwipe.
While Google and Apple are pushing contactless payments with their hardware, MasterCard and Zwipe have developed the world's first fingerprint-authenticated contactless payment card. This card uses an integrated biometric sensor and stores the user's biometric data in secure biometric authentication technology provided by Zwipe. This tech also stores MasterCard's application and an EMV-certified secure element.
In other words, the user's fingerprint data is stored directly on the card and not on MasterCard's servers. That presumably means that the only way hackers can use this card is to acquire the correct finger. The card cannot be used in contactless payments unless it's activated by the user's finger.
MasterCard indicated on Friday that Zwipe is currently working on the next-generation version of its contactless payment card. Slated for a 2015 release, this card will be the standard credit card size and work with all payment terminals. This card won't even need a battery, as it grabs energy from the payment terminals.
News of this biometric credit card arrives just one day after MasterCard revealed its support (opens in new tab) for Apple Pay. This service is based on Apple's Touch ID, which is available in newer Apple products like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Like Zwipe's credit card, Apple customers must hold a finger on the Touch ID button and then hold the device next to a contactless reader. The tech creates a unique Device Account Number, which is stored and encrypted in the device's Secure Element. This element is "walled off" from iOS according to Apple, and it's not backed up in the cloud, keeping the user's information safe.
Between Apple and Zwipe, MasterCard seems to be moving full throttle into the contactless payment arena.
"Safety and security in everyday payments is at the heart of MasterCard's business," said Ajay Bhalla. "We will continue to work with innovators, like Zwipe, to ensure we stay ahead of fraudsters and provide a seamless payment experience, as ultimately it is consumers who decide how they choose to pay."