MasterCards Will Soon Come With A Built-In Fingerprint Scanner

With all the recent security issues surrounding credit card numbers, there’s increasing interest in adding additional security measures. For example, PIN codes are being integrated with cards in many regions, but a company called Zwipe has something a little different in mind. Zwype is partnering with MasterCard to make a new kind of card that uses your fingerprint for authorization when the time comes to pay, and there’s no transaction limit.

Cards with Zwype will have a small black square toward the upper right where the hologram is on most cards. This is the fingerprint scanner, and all you have to do is press your register thumb to it when using the card. Zwype is designed to make use of NFCpayment terminals, but of course that technology is still not terribly common. Zwype cards can be swiped normally in a card reader, but that seems more awkward if you need to press your thumb to the card in a certain way.

The card doesn’t need any sort of internal power source–like NFC payment dongles, the entire scanning system in a Zwype card is powered by the payment terminal when it is read. So at least you won’t have to remember to charge your credit card too. This sounds really convenient, and it probably is most of the time. However, it isn’t clear how you’d use a Zwype card if you need to hand your card to someone else to swype–for example at a restaurant. I don’t see any way you could pre-authorize the card as it’s only powered and reading when being swiped. I suppose you could send your thumb along with the card, but that’s bound to get messy.

Zwype cards will be available in 2015 on MasterCard plastic from a number of banks and financial institutions. The company points out the technology has survived a real-world trial in Norway, so it should at least function somewhat well in less adverse conditions.

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