Payments 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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.