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Banking services
August 12, 2022

The biometric bank card

Payment by contactless card has become a must since 2020. According to a survey conducted by GfK for Visa, 42% of French people say they are paying more by contactless payment since the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis. Whether it is with a card or a phone, this functionality is more than adopted by the population and merchants, but it also has its limits, particularly with regard to the payment limit. In many cases we use our fingerprints or face to identify ourselves, unlock our smartphone or prove our identity. So what do you think of a card that can do everything? After the dynamic cryptogram card, discover the biometric card, a new generation product that will perhaps soon make its appearance when collecting money from your customers.

1/ The biometric card with fingerprint reader: how does it work?

The biometric card is a classic bank card with an integrated fingerprint reader to simplify and secure all card payments. It is compatible with all payment terminals that accept contactless technology.

In the contactless version, the €50 payment limit no longer exists and you will no longer have to type in your PIN code for both contactless and contact payments. Biometrics seems to be very popular in the surveys. According to a survey carried out by Kantar for the CB bankcard group, 52% of French people favour authentication by fingerprint over the secret code when the latter is available. Nevertheless, if the payment is refused, you can renew the payment by entering the PIN code.

In short, with a biometric card, when making a payment, you will simply have to place your finger on the fingerprint reader of your bank card and place it on the payment terminal.

For comparison, this is similar to unlocking your phone via the fingerprint button. With each transaction, your fingerprint is compared with the fingerprint stored on the card. As soon as the two fingerprints match, the transaction is validated with no limit on the amount. For the rest of the functions linked to a bank card, such as the immediate or deferred debit option, the payment or withdrawal limits, this does not change.

2/ Which bank can I use it with, at what price and how do I activate it?

In France, BNP Paribas was the first bank to make its biometric card widely available. The biometric functionality is an option reserved for BNP Paribas premium card users. Indeed, only Visa Premier cardholders can order a biometric bank card. This option, available in all BNP Paribas bank branches, costs 24 euros per year more than the cost of the classic Premier card.

The biometric card is mainly intended to secure contactless payments at a payment terminal, in particular by authenticating the cardholder. Crédit Agricole has launched a trial phase for the biometric bank card in its Touraine and Poitou regional banks. Today, this innovation is offered to Crédit Agricole subscribers holding a Mastercard World Elite card.

At Société Générale, the fingerprint bank card is currently being developed. It will therefore take some time for it to become widely available. But if the test is successful, experts predict that this feature will quickly be developed on a large scale on all cards and that it will become the norm in the next few years. The process of registering your fingerprint when you receive the card is simple. You have the possibility of carrying out the manipulation in a branch in the presence of your advisor or at home.

  • At a branch: when the biometric bank card is received, the cardholder can go to his or her bank and follow the instructions of his or her advisor. First, the card must be inserted into a dedicated reader at the bank. Then, they must enter the card's PIN code, which will be useful if the fingerprint does not work. Finally, he will have to place his finger (ideally the thumb) several times, in several positions on the biometric sensor or fingerprint reader of the card in order to register the entire finger. This last step should be repeated until the red light turns green.
  • At home: the procedure is the same, an activation connector is provided with the card in order to carry out the same procedure as in the branch.

In both cases, the activation of the biometric payment will take place after the first transaction (payment or withdrawal). The PIN code must be entered. If one of your customers is unable to validate his or her transaction, ask him or her this simple question: "Is this your first payment by biometric card?

3/ Collection of payments by bank card

Generally speaking, the new generation of terminals accept contactless payment, which has exploded since the Covid crisis. This is the case with the terminals offered by Olkypay and KyPay: they are NFC, contactless, smart card, biometric card and e-wallet compatible. Moreover, the terminals that Olkypay and KyPay make available to professionals are equipped with a powerful processor that optimises transaction processing time and comply with PCI-DSS and PSD2 security standards. So you will be able to collect payments via a biometric card without any problem and in complete security!

4/ Biometrics: security and personal data

The CNIL defines biometrics as "all computer techniques that automatically recognise an individual on the basis of their physical, biological or even behavioural characteristics". Biometric data is therefore strictly personal and has the particularity of being unique and permanent.

As soon as this new generation of bank cards was announced, many critics raised the issue of personal data security. The French company Idemia, which created this technology, replied that all the customer's personal information is not transmitted to the bank, the personalisation service or the merchant. All reference data is stored on the cardholder's secure chip.

In conclusion, the technology is constantly evolving to meet current and future challenges. After the dynamic cryptogram card already in place in many banks and available on a wide range of cards, the biometric solution will be a new guarantee of simplicity, speed and security.