Credit card with fingerprint tech now in South Africa

Mastercard has unveiled its new biometric card, which combines chip technology with fingerprints to verify the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases.

South Africa is the first market to test the technology, with two trials concluded by Pick n Pay and ABSA.

The card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments and can be used at EMV terminals.

How it works

A cardholder enrols their card by registering with their financial institution.

Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card.

The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal.

When paying in-store, the biometric card works like a chip card.

The cardholder dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor.

The fingerprint is verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated.

The transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.


Authenticating a payment transaction biometrically confirms, in a unique way, that the person using the card is the genuine cardholder.

Merchants can improve customers’ shopping experiences, as the card works with existing EMV terminal infrastructure and does not require upgrades.

For issuers, the technology helps detect and prevent fraud, increase approval rates, reduce operational costs, and foster customer loyalty.

Additionally, a future version of the card will feature contactless technology.

Trials underway

The recent South African trials mobilised employees from Pick n Pay and ABSA to test the potential ways convenience and security could contribute to the checkout process.

Over the next few months, additional trials will be conducted with the biometric card.

A full roll-out is expected later this year.

Now read: Why you should always pull on an ATM card slot before using it

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Credit card with fingerprint tech now in South Africa