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Natwest launches biometric bank card

Natwest has announced the launch of a biometric payments card trial. The pilot will feature fingerprint bank card technology and will be trialed by 200 customers in the coming weeks.

Customers will use their fingerprint to verify transactions over £30, with no PIN required. The fingerprint reader will feature on the corner of the customer’s bank card, meaning retailers will not have to upgrade their point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

David Crawford, head of current accounts at Natwest, said: “We are using the very latest technology across our business to make banking easier for our customers and biometric fingerprint cards are one of the many technologies we are exploring further. This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and we are excited to trial the service.”

Howard Berg, UK MD of Gemalto, which is working with Natwest on digital security, added: “Using a fingerprint rather than a PIN code to authorise transactions has many advantages, primarily enhanced security and greater convenience. Cardholders can pay quickly and easily with just a simple touch, and they no longer need to worry about the limit on contactless payment transactions.”

Gemalto also said the fingerprint data is stored on the bank card’s chip, not on the bank’s servers.

The fingerprint bank card technology is designed to lift restrictions on the £30 contactless limit, but customers who have fingerprint readers on their smartphones with registered payment cards can also waiver the limit as the fingerprint and the presence of a card acts as the two-factor authentication needed for larger transactions. That said, in practice many customers have found retail POS terminals still require a PIN for transactions of over £30, even if the shopper is using a fingerprint reader on their smartphone to meet the required authentication.

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