NatWest and RBS trial biometric bank card

The card will use an embedded sensor activated by existing card machines to check the user's fingerprint

Natwest biometric card

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)-owned Natwest has announced it's planning to trial biometric technology within banks cards for 200 of its customers, allowing them to use their fingerprint to verify transactions with a value of more than 30, eradicating the need to remember a PIN number.

Although contactless payments are now ubiquitous, one limiting factor is they can only be used for transactions around the 30 mark. With the biometric bank card trials, users will be able to buy products above that value thanks to the use of secure verification.

"We are using the very latest technology across our business to make banking easier for our customers and biometric fingerprint cards are one of the many technologies we are exploring further," said David Crawford, head of current accounts at Natwest. "This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and we are excited to trial the service."

Natwest hasn't revealed whether its tech will be for debit, credit or both types of customers, nor has it said whether there will be an upper limit for transactions. The cards will be fitted with a built-in sensor triggered by the payment terminal. When a customer touches their fingerprint to the sensor, it's compared to the biometric information stored on the card and the transaction is approved if it matches.

RBS has teamed up with Gemalto, Visa and Mastercard (suggesting it will work with both credit and debit cards) to bring the service to the UK market.

"Using a fingerprint rather than a PIN code to authorise transactions has many advantages, primarily enhanced security and greater convenience," said Howard Berg, UK MD at Gemalto. "Cardholders can pay quickly and easily with just a simple touch, and they no longer need to worry about the limit on contactless payment transactions."

The trials are due to start in April and will last three months, after which time the companies will decide whether to roll out bigger tests.

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