Jordan Kuwait Bank to launch region’s first contactless biometric cards using Thales tech

Users will be able to authenticate transactions with their fingerprints

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French technology company Thales will supply Jordan Kuwait Bank with contactless biometric Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) bank cards allowing customers to authorise transactions using their fingerprints, marking the region’s first contactless biometric EMV bank card.

Thales’ biometric cards will provide EMV payment solutions across existing contactless, chip and PIN terminals or online, the company said on Wednesday.

An EMV card is a credit or debit card with an embedded microchip designed to enable secure payment at point-of-sale terminals.

The initiative was driven by customers’ increased need for fully contactless payment options in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, said Suhail Salman, head of retail business at JKB.

The contactless biometric EMV bank card incorporates Thales’ advanced payment solutions, whereby the “use of the fingerprint is more convenient than the four-digit PIN as well as safer being a fully contactless experience”, he said.

The use of digital payment methods has grown rapidly since the onset of the pandemic as fear of contagion means people avoid using physical cash. Globally, digital payments are set to grow to $8.3 trillion in 2024, from $4.4tn last year, Statista said.

In May, payments company Mastercard said that 97 per cent of 1,000 consumers it surveyed in the UAE planned on using at least one new method of digital payment such as wearables, biometrics, digital currencies or QR codes within the next year. This compares with a global average of 93 per cent.

Many people already use fingerprint biometrics on their smartphones to unlock screens, log into an app or make a payment without having to remember a PIN code, according to a video on Thales’ website.

Now, fingerprint biometrics is coming to cards, too. With a biometric card, users will only need their fingerprint to confirm a purchase over a contactless terminal. The user’s biometric data will be stored in the card, as per the video.

Thales’ biometric cards will be distributed to the Jordan Kuwait Bank’s Mastercard World Elite customers who will save their digital fingerprints on the biometric card. They do not need to visit a branch to register their fingerprint impression, the company said.

During a contactless payment transaction, the fingerprint will be instantly compared with the cardholder’s biometric data, which is stored in the card.

“We have ensured that the built-in fingerprint scanners in the biometric EMV cards uses the latest pioneering technology to assure fast, contactless and secure transactions to JKB’s customers,” said Nassir Ghrous, senior vice president of banking and payment services for Southern Europe, Eurasia, Middle East and Africa region at Thales.

These cards can be used at ATMs and for online shopping, Thales said.

The card is powered by the card terminal. When a customer presents it, a green light on the card indicates that the fingerprint has been matched successfully.

With fingerprint recognition, cardholders are automatically authenticated, without the need to enter the PIN code at the POS terminal to validate a transaction, the company said.

Updated: October 03, 2021, 12:25 PM