Consumer Payment Card News


Punching a PIN to use a debit card may soon be replaced by biometrics. A major credit card terminal manufacturer last week unveiled a new system that utilizes fingerprint-derived identification technology at the point-of-sale that does not infringe upon individual privacy. The new Hypercom system employs a finger-scanning pad connected to the payment card terminal, which is used to create a digital vector from the image of the fingerprint. The vector is a 256-byte value which, when coupled with the card number, provides an extremely reliable and foolproof method of identity verification. The vector generation process is one-way, making it impossible to re-create the fingerprint from the vector. Fingerprint images are never transmitted from the terminal, nor are they stored in a database. Unlike fingerprints, the vectors are not unique. This is not unlike PIN codes, which at four digits only have 10,000 combinations, resulting in many people having the same PINs. It is the combination of the card number and PIN, or in this case, the fingerprint vector, that is unique. The result is a system that allows positive identity verification without actually knowing the unique fingerprints of consumers. Hypercom says tests have shown that online transaction times are increased by 1.5 to 3 seconds when they include the fingerprint-derived vector. Merchants will have to shell out about $100 per terminal to upgrade to the system. For more information visit

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