Mastercard’s Biometric Payment Card: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

cardgifPayments giant Mastercard announced today it is undergoing trials for a new payment card. A first in the industry, the company has embedded a fingerprint scanner inside a Chip and PIN payment card– think of it as Apple Pay for your bank card. Once users insert their card into a chip reader, they set their finger on the embedded sensor, and the card sends the authentication to the bank, which approves the payment.

The good

  • Scanning their fingerprint eliminates the need for a user to enter (and remember) their PIN
  • Bystanders can’t steal your fingerprint as easily as they can peek at your PIN
  • The card defaults to a PIN or signature in the event the user’s finger is too sweaty or greasy to read
  • Users can add up to two fingerprints
  • Merchants can use their existing EMV card readers; no software upgrades are required

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 2.08.33 PM

The bad

  • Mobile biometric readers have proven to be spoofable
  • The fingerprint scanner will not work on magstripe-only readers
  • The card does not currently support contactless payment functionality popular in Europe

The ugly

  • In order to use the fingerprint sensor on the card consumers have to register their fingerprint by visiting a brick-and-mortar bank branch or enrollment center.
  • There is no information on what the card will cost, but it’s not going to be cheap. Whether the financial institution chooses to pay for the new card or if they decide to charge consumers for it (more likely), someone will need to foot the bill.

This new concept card has undergone trials in South Africa and will be tested in Europe and Asia Pacific in the next few months. A full rollout is expected later this year. Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa, was the pilot behind the South Africa trials. There’s no word yet on which bank partnerships Mastercard has in place for the full rollout.

This is not the company’s first foray into biometrics. In October 2016 Mastercard launched Selfie Pay, an app that enables users to authenticate by taking a photo of their face. Mastercard last demoed at FinovateFall 2014 and showed off its Developer Zone at FinDEVr San Francisco 2014.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Check out our latest FinovateSpring Sneak Peeks featuring Tyro, FUCO & SOLUTION, Eltropy, AFS, cyberProductivity, and Tavant Technologies.
  • Mastercard’s Biometric Payment Card: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Around the web

  • Business Today India features algorithm-based, stock market research platform, MarketsMojo.
  • Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank to deploy DNA core account processing platform from Fiserv.
  • Yorkshire Building Society to leverage technology from Capriza to support transition to mobile.
  • CoverHound to offer insurance quotes for rideshare drivers.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

FinDEVr APIntelligence

FDLD17_EventLogoV1_wdate(large) (1)We saw some great stuff at FinDEVr New York last month; stay tuned for videos of the live presentations! If you missed out, check out FinDEVr London on June 12 & 13 during London Tech Week. Register today and save big time.


  • InComm Partners with WeChat Pay Parent Tencent.

Alumni updates

  • Kabbage extends $3 billion in funding to more than 100,000 small business customers.
  • PayPal extends partnership with Visa into Asia-Pacific region.
  • HyperPay to leverage ACI Worldwide’s Mobile Commerce SDK to offer merchants a mobile checkout solution.
  • FICO launches cloud-based origination solution to help mid-market lenders automate small business lending decisions.
  • Twilio launches programmable fax service.
  • Citi takes API developer hub to Hong Kong.
  • Mastercard Adds to Authentication Arsenal with Acquisition of NuData Security.
  • Xero named a “2017 Top Rated Accounting & Budgeting Software” on TrustRadius.
  • Iroquois Federal Savings & Loan Association to deploy core processing system from Fiserv.
  • Braspag announces integration of e-commerce and anti-fraud technology from ACI Worldwide.

Stay current on daily news from the fintech developer community! Follow FinDEVr on Twitter.

Mastercard Adds to Authentication Arsenal with Acquisition of NuData Security


Terms were not disclosed, but Mastercard announced today that it would acquire Canadian anti-fraud specialist, NuData Security. Mastercard signaled that the addition would help the company with device-level authentication, but the move is widely believed to buttress its cybersecurity arsenal as payments from devices connected to the Internet of Things become a reality.

“Securing all payments today and tomorrow remains a top priority for Mastercard,” Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security for Mastercard said. Bhalla added NuData Security’s combination of “session and biometric information” will better help defend against a wide variety of online and device-targeting threats, “enabling us to deliver even greater trust and peace of mind.”


Pictured: Robert Capps, VP for Business Development at NuData Security, demonstrating NuDetect at FinovateSpring 2016.

“For nearly a decade, we’ve worked to develop innovative solutions to help transform the way banks and merchants digitally interact with consumers,” NuData Security CEO Michel Giasson said. He added “Those efforts will continue and accelerate through our collective enhanced capabilities to secure the digital landscape, while offering an enhanced user experience.”

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, NuData Security demonstrated its NuDetect behavior analytics platform at FinovateSpring 2016. NuDetect analyzes a user’s online, mobile app, and smartphone interactions, and flags those interactions that suggest anomalous behavior or represent the greatest potential risk. Each interaction provides the technology with more information, giving merchants and card issuers the ability to provide authorizations in real time.

Last December, NuData announced that Arvato Financial Solutions would deploy its behavioral biometric solution. And in October, the company partnered with Early Warning to bring biometric technology to real-time payments. An alum of our FinDEVr developers events as well as our Finovate conferences, NuData presented “NuDetect – It’s All About Trust” at FinDEVr 2016 Silicon Valley.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Mastercard Adds to Authentication Arsenal with Acquisition of NuData Security.

Around the web

  • Scalable Capital doubles assets in three months.
  • Pindrop’s Security and Authentication Technology Will Be Available With Amazon Connect.
  • HSBC announces fintech partnership with Tradeshift.
  • Xero named a “2017 Top Rated Accounting & Budgeting Software” on TrustRadius.
  • nCino to power commercial lending for Valley National Bank.
  • Iroquois Federal Savings & Loan Association to deploy core processing system from Fiserv.
  • Trustly unveils new solution for recurring payments, Trustly Direct Debit.
  • Braspag announces integration of e-commerce and anti-fraud technology from ACI Worldwide.
  • Mid-office operations automation from Five Degrees, Matrix, goes live at GarantiBank International.
  • New York-based CFCU Community Credit Union taps Insuritas to install full services insurance agency solution.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

FinDEVr APIntelligence

We saw some great stuff at FinDEVr New York last week; stay tuned for videos of the live presentations! If you missed out, check out FinDEVr London on June 12 & 13 during London Tech Week. Register today and save big time.


Alumni updates

  • FinDEVr New York newcomer Fiserv announces enhancements to its real-time, loan servicing solution, LoanServ.
  • Swiss financial sector infrastructure operator SIX partners with IBM Watson to build cyber-security hub.
  • looks at speculation that Kabbage may acquire OnDeck.
  • BBVA among the latest companies to join Hyperledger.
  • MasterCard introduces new fraud detection solution, Decision Intelligence.
  • Credit Donkey lists StockTwitsDriveWealth, and Personal Capital among its Best Investing Apps of 2017.
  • Forrester recognizes FinDEVr newcomer Outsystems as a leader in low-code development platforms.
  • E-commerce services from Vantiv achieve Oracle Validate Integration. Video of Vantiv’s FinDEVr 2017 New York presentation will be available soon.
  • VISA to enable electronic business payments for SME clients of B2B electronic invoicing network, Viewpost.
  • Fiserv reports nearly 30 banks and CUs deployed its digital banking technology in 2016, taking the total number of FIs using its online banking solutions to 3,500.

Stay current on daily news from the fintech developer community! Follow FinDEVr on Twitter.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Daon Brings Mobile Biometric Authentication to UnionBank.
  • A Look at the Savings Tech Horizon: Standalone, Automated Savings with Dyme and Digit.
  • A Look at the Savings Tech Horizon: Gen-Z Targeted with Worldline and FamZoo.

Around the web

  • TradeShift announces new AI-powered interface for B2B commerce, Tradeshift Ada.
  • MasterCard introduces new fraud detection solution, Decision Intelligence.
  • Co-op Financial Services to leverage machine learning-based fraud fighting technology from Feedzai.
  • TickSmith partners with DataBP to bring integrated financial data solutions to exchanges.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Fintech Trending: Blockchain Building Blocks for 2017

Photo via Good Free Photos
Photo via Good Free Photos

What blockchain trends from 2016 are worth watching for follow-through in 2017? Here are five blockchain players to keep an eye on as the new year begins.

IBM: Something Old, Something New, Something Blue

It is remarkable that a company that is more than 100 years old (“International Business Machines”) is one of the leading innovators when it comes to the blockchain. But IBM (FD16) began 2016 by introducing its strategy to offer cloud-based products and services for business via blockchain technology. IBM’s “blockchain-as-a-service” strategy incorporates many of the company’s core technology projects including its Watson Internet of Things platform and its development lab, Bluemix Garage – as well as its core IT system for global banks, IBM z System. IBM’s blockchain strategy also includes its participation in the open source, Linux-driven Hyperledger Project (demonstrated at FinDEVr). Just this week, a commodity trading and agribusiness software provider, The Seam, that has “cleared or processed” $7 billion, announced it would be joining IBM’s blockchain consortium.


IBM is not the only major technology company to pursue the blockchain-as-a-service model. Microsoft, which launched a blockchain sandbox in October 2015, partnered with Ethereum collective, ConsenSys to give its enterprise clients access to an Ethereum blockchain-as-a-service network. This will enable business users of Microsoft’s Azure to easily build and deploy “private and semi-private or consortium blockchain networks.” Note also that Microsoft partnered with AMIS to launch Asia’s first blockchain consortium in December.

That said, IBM distinguishes itself from Microsoft’s efforts by being fairly IBM-centric in its offering. Jerry Cuomo, IBM VP of blockchain technology, told CoinDesk: “What we’re doing is we’re picking a specific fabric and a specific point of view. We’re not interested in any fabric,” Cuomo explained, “we’re interested in one that can support business applications. We’re a bit more opinionated on what fabric is needed.”

International Business Machines, indeed.

And when it comes to ascertaining the appetite for blockchain, IBM has done its homework. In a survey of 200 banks, IBM learned that 65% of respondents “plan to have projects in production” in the next three years. Areas of focus include clearing and settlement, wholesale payments, equity and debt issuance, and reference data. Respondents to a different survey of 200 global FIs revealed that 14% planned to deploy commercial blockchain products in 2017.

Ripple Rolls On with Big Investment, New CEO

Among blockchain startups, Ripple (FS13) has been a key player in helping FIs leverage its technology to build blockchain networks. The company announced a partnership with leading corporate Nordic bank SEB late in 2016 to build an “internal, closed blockchain” that will enable the bank to transfer money in real time between accounts in New York and Stockholm. Ripple is also involved in India’s Axis Bank and it plans to use Ripple’s network for real-time settlement of cross-border transactions.


2016 was a major year for Ripple. The company announced a number of new additions – including Santander, UBS, CIBC, and Standard Chartered – to its global network. Ripple’s network now includes 15 of the top 50 global banks as well as “10 banks in commercial deal phases, and over 30 bank pilots completed.” Ripple’s digital currency, XRP, was part of blockchain consortium, R3’s 12-bank cross-border payments trial in October. The company picked up $55 million in Series B funding in September, taking Ripple’s total capital to more than $93 million. Ripple also appointed a new CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, who has previously served as the company’s president and COO.

“The continued growth of the Ripple network represents a major endorsement of our open approach to connecting the world’s bank and their customers,” Ripple co-founder and former CEO Chris Larsen said. Larsen, who will transition to the role of Ripple chairman of the board at the beginning of 2017, added: “Together we are building a modern payments system to enable new economic opportunities and the seamless flow of value around the world.”

R3: Are Blockchain-Curious Banks Stronger Together?

One way to measure the progress of blockchain technology is by keeping track of the comings (and goings) of members of R3, the world’s largest blockchain-based cooperative. Founded in 2014 and with more than 70 of the world’s largest FIs onboard, R3 is designed to conduct research on and promote the use of blockchain technology in financial services. R3’s biggest contribution to date is Corda, an open-source distributed ledger platform that, while maintaining many of the characteristics of blockchain technology, is not – technically speaking – a blockchain.


Unfortunately, many of the headlines R3 made in 2016 involved a handful of founding members – including Morgan Stanley, Santander, and Goldman Sachs – leaving the cooperative. Specific reasons for leaving the group were typically not provided, though each bank made it clear that the decision was not a reflection on their interest in blockchain technology. Many observers have speculated that the timing of the departures was related to issues surrounding R3’s fundraising efforts, as well as concerns about the growth of the cooperative itself (currently at more than 70 members). Speaking to the departures at Disrupt London in December, R3 founder and CEO David Rutter pointed to the difficulty of “meet(ing) everyone’s criteria” in an organization the size of R3. To the fundraising concerns, Rutter affirmed R3’s “very good progress” toward completing a $150 million funding round.

Beyond the Banks: Card Companies, Payments and Blockchain

One interesting place to keep an eye on for blockchain-related developments in 2017 is among non-bank financial players like the card companies. Visa (FD14), for example, unveiled a blockchain based payments platform, Visa B2B Connect, in partnership with Chain (FD15) in 2016. The technology, designed to provide “near real-time transactions” for high value international payments, will undergo testing this year.

Meanwhile, Mastercard (F14; FD14) has responded to its rival’s challenge by adding blockchain-based APIs to its app developer’s platform, MasterCard Developers. The APIs include a Blockchain Core API, a Smart Contracts API, and a Fast Pay Network API. Mastercard says its APIs, among other things, will help developers build tools to take counterparty risk and costs from transaction flow, as well as improve processing audibility and client privacy.

Is a Bull Market in Bitcoin a Boon for the Blockchain?

With bitcoin closing 2016 with a return to its highest level in years, it is little surprise the cryptocurrency is finding its way into the hearts and minds of investors seeking uncorrelated assets to diversify their portfolios. In “Bitcoin Investing: Where Wall Street and Silicon Valley Meet,” Chris Burniske and Adam White make the case for bitcoin as an asset class for long-term investors based on the currency’s declining volatility, reward-vs-risk, and lack of correlation with most other markets including gold, U.S. real estate, and U.S. equities since 2011. Whether growing interest in bitcoin ends up contributing to (or at least correlating with) increased interest in the technology that makes the digital currency possible will be one of the big questions of 2017, as well.

Finovate/FinDEVr Alums Featured Among Monitise FINkit Platform Partners


Monitise is launching its FINkit partner program with a roomful of fintech heavyweights. FINkit is a cloud-based platform and toolkit that enables banks to collaborate with fintech firms and gain access to technologies and services such as tokenization, geolocation, biometric security, and digital wallets.

In addition to founding partner and fellow Finovate alum MasterCard (F14, FD14), Monitise has signed up another 12 founding FINkit members including another six Finovate/FinDEVr alums:

  • BehavioSec (F15, FD15)
  • Currencycloud (F16, FD15)
  • Envestnet | Yodlee (F16, FD16)
  • Experian (F16)
  • Fastacash (F14)
  • FICO (FD16)
  • HID Global
  • iGeolise
  • LivePerson
  • Syniverse
  • WorldFirst

Mark Barnett, president of MasterCard U.K. and Ireland, says FINkit is “a fantastic platform for banks and partners to come together in a live production environment to deliver innovative services—securely, reliably, and quickly.” Nick Cheetham, Monitise-FINkit managing director, says the kind of collaboration enabled by FINkit is “vital” and warned against allowing new technologies to “stagnate in banks’ ‘innovation theaters.'” Cheetham pledged that his founding group of partners “will enable significant progress to be made in digital service delivery.”


The news from Monitise adds to an increasingly positive year for the company. A new COO and business structure announced in May have been credited for lowering costs and turning a profit by fall. The company said that the launch of FINkit, which was developed using IBM’s Bluemix platform, also helped generate initial revenues.

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in London, Monitise went public in 2007. One of Finovate’s earliest alums, demoing in 2007, the company raised more than $309 million in post-IPO equity from investors including Banco Santander, First Eastern Investment Group, MasterCard, Telefonica, and Visa International Service Association. Former Deputy CEO and COO Lee Cameron was promoted to CEO in September 2015. The following month, Monitise announced a new cloud platform agreement “to explore potential projects” with telecom giant, Telefonica Digital.

Finovate Alumni News


  • “P2P Lender Zopa to Launch Challenger Bank”
  • “Finovate/FinDEVr Alums Featured Among Monitise FINkit Platform Partners”
  • “Veridium Brings Hand Recognition Authentication to Mobile-Only Dutch bank, bunq”

Around the web

  • Co-founder of Markit, Rony Grushka, joins Algomi’s board of directors.
  • FinDEVr alum Quovo launches its account-authentication API.
  • Juvo teams up with Cable & Wireless to provide mobile credit services in the Caribbean.
  • Mastercard partners with Ratnakar Bank to launch Masterpass QR in India.
  • Thomson Reuters unveils its Thomson Reuters Pricing Service Evaluation Score (TRPS) to support pricing transparency.
  • LendingTree acquires credit card comparison and education provider, CompareCards.
  • Pirean wins security innovation of the year at the U.K.’s 2016 IT Industry Awards.
  • SafetyPay to power payment solutions for Payzoff.
  • NatWest deploys BioCatch behavioral biometrics technology.
  • Boku provides direct carrier billing in Japan for Spotify.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.