Are fingerprint cards next?

Email to a Friend

Although consumers and merchants want financial data to be more secure, it probably won’t be any time soon that you see credit or debit cards that are activated by biometrics, three experts tell us.

few companies developed credit or debit cards that use a fingerprint or an iris scan to enable a transaction. The problem has been making card readers in stores that accept such authentication.

In April 2016, SmartMetric introduced a biometric credit card that has a built-in fingerprint scanner. The company says you swipe your finger over the card, and the card scans the fingerprint and identifies you instantly. The card, which contains a chip, like credit or debit cards that use either a PIN or a signature for authentication, then can be used in ATMs or other card readers. The card has a battery that recharges while it’s used, and SmartMetric says the battery will last 5 years.

However, experts say SmartMetric’s card—as well as those of others—faces an uphill battle for acceptance. That’s despite acknowledging that the technology is at least as secure as are other forms of card authentication.

Ray Wizbowski of Entrust Datacard, which provides card-authentication technology, says it’s a simple price equation. He notes that typical credit cards cost less than $5, so card issuers don’t pass along the cost to the consumer. However, as of press time, SmartMetric’s price was $50 per card, and card issuers won’t be as likely to absorb those costs, he says.

“Cost is always going to be a challenge of getting the technology into the mainstream,” he says.

Wizbowski adds that a fingerprint-scanning card won’t lead to any reduction in time during checkout.

Maria Arminio of Electronic Funds Transfer Association says card issuers that want to improve security more likely will switch to a dynamic, or ever-changing, PIN for authentication.

“Dynamic authentication is much more effective than is static, which is what most biometric techniques are,” she says.