In cooperation with Mastercard, the National Bank of Kuwait will lead the first biometric payment card trial in the GCC, an economic bloc that also includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
The news comes amid a flurry of activity concerning biometric payment card pilots in the region. In the middle of April, Gemalto announced that Lebanon-based FinTech specialist Areeba would offer its biometric Visa card to its client network, and shortly after that fingerprint sensor specialist Fingerprint Cards announced its sensors were being used in an unnamed Visa-led biometric cards project – presumably the same one. This week, fingerprint biometrics specialist IDEX announced that a trial of its own biometric card technology was getting underway in the Middle East, offering few further details on the project; but given that Mastercard is the firm’s major payments partner, it could concern this new initiative with the National Bank of Kuwait.
In a statement, NBK explained that the biometric card “works like any other chip card,” as “[t]he cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s point-of-sale terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor.” That suggests it will be a contact-based solution, rather than one based on contactless technology, though by eliminating the use of PINs it should prove to be more convenient than standard contact-based EMV transactions.
Meanwhile, NBK also announced that it will be the first bank in the Middle East and Africa region to offer its customers Identity Check, Mastercard’s biometric authentication platform. The system will be available as an app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store, and will allow NBK customers to use their fingerprint or facial biometrics via their smartphones to confirm online purchases.
May 17, 2018 – by Alex Perala