Instead of contacting cash, your fingers contact a fingerprint sensor. Three firms are piloting the first biometric smart card in Asia.

Do you think using your fingerprint to authorize transactions at in-store payment terminals is a useful alternative to contactless payment systems?

Some companies think so, and a pilot program has been launched in Asia to test this type of biometric authentication in card form.

The F.CODE Easy card supposedly transfers the seamless and intuitive experience of biometric authentication from a smartphone to the form of a smart card. The makers claim it makes transactions more convenient, safe and secure by eliminating the need for a cardholder to provide a PIN number or signature, thereby reducing touch points in public places.

A battery-free card

Developed by IDEMIA in accordance with technical and design specifications by Mastercard, F.CODE Easy ensures privacy and security by storing all biometric credentials on the card chip rather than a central database.

The battery-free card, which harvests energy from payment terminals to power its fingerprint sensor, is designed to be user-friendly and is certified to ISO standards by Mastercard for security and compliance.

MatchMove, a Singapore-based Banking-as-a-Service provider, will issue the biometric cards for the pilot in the fourth quarter of this year. The pilot will feature employees of Mastercard, IDEMIA and MatchMove using the cards for transactions and live demonstrations for customers.

Said Matthew Driver, Executive Vice President, Services, Asia Pacific, Mastercard: “As people make a permanent move to contactless transactions, the biometric card promises more choice and greater security for consumers.” He said this potential product is a testament to his firm’s mission “to provide fast, frictionless payment experiences that are protected at every point.”

Pilot program details 

The shift to touch-free transactions is underway globally as almost six in 10 consumers said the move to digital payments was likely to last beyond the end of the pandemic. According to a Mastercard study in June, nearly half planned to use cash less.

In the Asia Pacific region, 71% in Australia, 77% in India, 73% in China and 62% in Japan believed the shift to contactless payments was here to stay.

According to IDEMIA Senior Vice President of Financial Institutions (Asia Pacific) Vincent Mouret: “We are delighted to partner with Mastercard and MatchMove to launch F.CODE Easy in Asia and we look forward to continuing to work together to provide end-to-end security for fintechs.”

MatchMove, which aims to democratize essential financial services using advanced cloud and mobile technologies, is one of 21 applicants for Singapore’s digital banking licenses. Its Chief Commercial Officer Amar Abrol said: “By leveraging F.CODE Easy, we can enable multiple use cases for our clients who in turn create greater value and utility for their customers, employees, suppliers and partners. We look forward to working together and introducing new innovative solutions to the market.”