NatWest trials fingerprint debit cards to remove £30 limit
Bank customers will be able to spend more than £30 using contactless cards with the trial introduction of fingerprint technology.
The trial is being started by NatWest in April, which will include 200 customers having debit cards which contain an electronic copy of their fingerprint on the corner of the card.
If the customer places their finger on that part of the card while waving it at a retailer’s payment terminal, it will authorise a contactless payment above £30 and the customer will not have to type in their number.
NatWest said retailers would not have to make any changes to existing payment terminals to accept the new cards, and it was working with Visa and Mastercard to ensure it would be accepted in all locations.
If a card is stolen, the thief will not be able to use it as a payment is only authorised if the user’s fingerprint matches the data on the card at the point of sale.
David Crawford, head of effortless payments at NatWest, said: “This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and we are excited to trial the service.”
Last year more than 6bn payments were made using contactless “wave and pay” technology, but the £30 limit is restricting further growth.
The technology has been developed by Dutch company Gemalto, which is also behind a similar trial launched in December by Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest bank.
It said that as a security measure the customer’s fingerprint was stored on the card itself, not the bank’s servers.
Gemalto said: “Fingerprint authentication sweeps away limits on the value of contactless payments, removing the need to enter a pin or sign the receipt. As a result, it simplifies the consumer experience at the point of sale and makes it faster and safer.
“The fingerprint information is only stored on the card. It is never sent to the bank or collected by a third party. Inside the chip of the card, the fingerprint data is encrypted; nobody can access them.”
A survey by Gemalto of UK consumers found that young adults would enthusiastically adopt a fingerprint technology card that allowed them to exceed the standard £30 contactless limit, but four out of 10 were worried about whether the technology would work all the time, and a third were concerned that their fingerprint could be compromised.