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First biometric EMV cards are piloting in Cyprus

Even though the world is migrating to digital platforms, the use of cards is still present. Credit and debit cards are popular because everyone is now familiar with how to use it and they are accepted essentially everywhere.

​Cards have now seen a new transformation with the use of biometric data. The new biometric cards are expected to have a sensor where you place your finger so the transaction on the POS terminals can be authenticated without the need to enter a PIN code, both in contact and in contactless mode. The card is powered by the payment terminal, making its use battery-free.

The benefits are that these features provide better security and authentication, so there should be no more limit on contactless payment transactions. Additionally, no upgrade is required on the POS, as the biometrics check is directly performed on the EMV biometric card and nowhere else.

The fingerprint data is securely stored in the card’s secure chip. This means that it is not kept on a bank’s servers nor sent to a personalization bureau.

Another benefit is that nothing changes with terminal or back-end infrastructure, so banks and issuers don’t have to worry about doing retailers any damage while the merchants will see a decrease in fraud.

The case of Cyprus

Cyprus might become the first country to use the world’s first EMV biometric dual interface payment card. The choice for fingerprint was driven by consumers becoming more comfortable with confirming their identity through their mobile phone using fingerprint ID rather than a password or a PIN. Therefore, in order to bring seamless authentication to the banking sector and for customers benefitting from the sense of security of the biometric data never leaving their hands, Bank of Cyprus is testing the new method.

The Bank is running a pilot program with 100 pre-selected customers. However, they are still unsure will the wider deployment take flight because it greatly depends on the trial’s final outcome.

There are a few disadvantages of this system, unfortunately. Even though it is supposed to be seamless, customers will be required to pay a €100 subscription fee for this feature and will need to register their fingerprint data once at a Bank of Cyprus branch.

It is highly likely that not everyone would be thrilled to do this extra step, but we are yet to see the results in the second half of the year.

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