What credit unions need to know about biometric payment cards

U.S. credit unions continue to be on the forefront of payments evolution. In January, Visa announced it would begin testing a fingerprint-enabled credit card in the United States with Utah-based Mountain America Credit Union. Until now, testing of similar platforms has mainly occurred outside the country and with large banks. MasterCard, which piloted its biometric card with Absa Bank in South Africa, says it will be ready to roll the cards out in the U.S. by April 2019.

What do Visa’s domestic testing and MasterCard’s newly announced timeline tell us about the near-term future of biometric payments? We asked CO-OP Product Manager Chole Casber for his insight…

What kind of impact could a fingerprint-enabled payments card bring to the market?

The most important benefit credit unions and their members could see from the introduction of a biometric payment mechanism like the ones Visa and MasterCard are testing is a potential reduction in fraud. Biometrics tend to be more secure than a PIN or signature. A PIN can be forgotten (or stolen), and a signature provides minimal fraud protection in-and-of itself. The lack of confidence in signatures can be seen in the recent decisions of major issuers to do away with signatures at the POS completely.


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