How to securely manage fingerprint authentication on payment cards

In this 1-minute video, R&D Director, Fredrik Clementson explains how to securely manage fingerprint authentication on payment cards.

Biometric payment cards are attracting banks and payment providers, the main incentive in addition to increasing user convenience is the opportunity to reduce the costs of fraud. This year we have seen several pilots launched, indicating that we are closing in on the first commercial launch.

Developing biometric payment cards also means a few challenges. Using biometrics on smart cards requires an extremely effective solution that can run the fingerprint authentication within the card’s restricted computing environment. It is also crucial that the biometric data is stored and processed securely. Perhaps the most critical question is, how can fingerprint authentication be managed securely on a payment card?

The best possible protection of a biometric smart card against hacking and spoofing is to store all fingerprint data and run the authentication process within the card’s Secure Element, SE, a secure chip where it’s possible to store sensitive data and run dedicated applications. All the major payment schemes have certified SE’s for payments.

The SE considerably reduces the risk for theft of fingerprint data and makes it extremely difficult to tamper with the payment process, essentially creating a bank grade security around the payment process. But SEs are very restricted chips, with a fraction of the memory and much less processing capability than the processor on a smartphone. The SEs that are currently used on payment cards are not powerful enough to handle both the extraction and matching of fingerprint templates.

Precise Biometrics solves this challenge by using an innovative software solution that divides the tasks of the fingerprint software. The solution runs the critical fingerprint match inside the SE and extraction of fingerprint data on a separate computer chip on the card. This makes it possible to use SEs that are currently available on the market, keeping the manufacturing costs of the card at an acceptable level.

For deeper insights of how to secure payments using biometric payment cards download our white paper, where we also describe what’s driving the interest and how the market is developing.