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Cape Town – After testing it in South Africa, Mastercard on Thursday unveiled its next generation biometric payment card which combines chip technology with fingerprints to verify the cardholder’s identity.

The global card payments company said in a statement that South Africa was the first market to test the evolved technology. Trials were recently completed with Pick n Pay and Absa Bank. The new card, which builds on fingerprint scanning technology already in use for mobile payments, can be used at payment terminals worldwide.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said Ajay Bhalla, president for enterprise risk and security at Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated.”

After a cardholder has registered for the card with their financial institution their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. Then on paying for goods in a store the cardholder inserts their card into the terminal and places their finger on the embedded sensor.

No struggle to remember a pesky pin code and the card doesn’t have to leave the consumer’s hand. During recent trials employees from Pick n Pay and Absa tested the convenience and security of the card. Additional trials will be conducted with the biometric card over the next few months, with a full roll-out expected later this year.

Richard van Rensburg, deputy chief executive at Pick n Pay, said the company was delighted that the innovation had been trialed at Pick n Pay stores. “Biometric capability will mean added convenience and enhanced security for our customers … We have been extremely impressed with the robust and secure nature of the technology,” he said.

Geoff Lee, head of card and payments at Absa retail and business banking, said the bank was very proud to be the first bank in Africa to test the technology in a real payment environment. Following the test period, he added, Absa would make the card available to customers in a way that was “affordable, reliable, convenient and secure”. Additional trials are being planned in Europe and Asia Pacific in the coming months.

African News Agency (ANA)