Visa launches biometric security for chip card transactions

Visa has introduced a new biometric specification for chip card transactions that can enable palm, voice, iris, or facial verification. This technology framework is designed to work with the EMV chip industry standard to make solutions more easily scalable.

The technology Visa has designed enables fingerprints to be securely accepted by a biometric reader, encrypted, and then validated. The specification supports ‘match-on-card’ authentication, meaning that the biometric data is not stored in any central database.

Since the technology is built to an EMV standard, Visa says it can be “seamlessly integrated with the technology used by 3.3 billion chip cards around the world”.

“There is increasing demand for biometrics as a more convenient and secure alternative to signatures or PINs, especially as biometrics technologies have become more reliable and available,” said Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of Risk Products and Business Intelligence, Visa Inc.

Nelsen goes on to stress that to support wider adoption, solutions must be easily scalable and based on open standards.

“Building on the EMV chip standard provides a common, interoperable foundation, as well as encourages innovation in cutting-edge biometric solutions.”

South Africa’s Absa Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group, will be first to trial new Visa specification for fingerprint validation at chip ATMs. Cardholders will use fingerprint readers at select Absa-owned ATMs in lieu of a PIN to complete transactions.

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