Société Générale launches biometric bank card

Société Générale (SocGen) is trialling a bank card with a fingerprint sensor, becoming the first French bank to experiment with biometric-enabled cards.

It launched the technology following the successful roll out of a new generation card equipped with a dynamic card verification code to 400,000 clients, which the bank suggests is proof of growing appetite for additional card security features.

A biometric security patch on the front of the credit or debit card features a fingerprint sensor which is activated by the cardholder once the card is issued and verified directly on the card. No element linked to the fingerprint is then sent on to either merchant or the bank, providing unique individualised security.

As a result of authentication by the cardholder’s finger rather than a PIN code, SocGen is allowing contactless payments on the card to be made with no limit. Contactless payment is now widely accepted amongst French consumers, with almost two billion transactions forecast in 2018, according to the CB Bank card group.

The biometric card works by either inserting a card into, or holding it above, a payment unit. The card then uses the power from the reader to activate the fingerprint reader chip to scan the print and unlock the card to allow a transaction.

The SocGen card uses uses F.CODE technology developed by augmented identity firm IDEMIA.

Both Visa and Mastercard have been trialling fingerprint card technology in the expectation that it will soon replace PIN number verification on bank cards worldwide.

Mastercard said in May that it was ready to issue “thousands” of biometric cards after trialling the technology in South Africa. Visa, for its part, has reportedly been testing fingerprint scanner cards in Cyprus.

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