Gemalto is to supply the Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaolo with the country's first biometric contactless payment card. The initial pilot program, which will run in Turin, Milan and Rome, and is scheduled to last several weeks, is the first live trial of an EMV contactless biometric card in Europe. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

Intesa Sanpaolo Biometric MasterCard Cardholders who sign up for the card can simply tap their card against any POS terminal to pay, at the same time authorising the transaction with their fingerprint. The card itself (a test card is pictured here) works without a battery because it is powered by the POS terminal itself, which means that there is no practical limit in terms of card lifespan or number of usages.

New advantages, existing infrastructure
Intesa Sanpaolo's initiative is the latest step forward in the bank's ambitious digital transformation strategy. Fingerprint authentication does away with limits on the value of contactless payments, removing the need to enter a PIN or sign the card receipt. As a result, it simplifies the consumer experience at the point of sale and makes it faster, safer, and more convenient.

The card works with the country's existing EMV card terminal infrastructure, so merchants can easily provide a much wider contactless shopping experience without the need to upgrade their current hardware or software. For card issuers, the technology also helps to detect and prevent fraud, increase transaction approval rates, reduce operational costs, and foster a greater degree of cardholder loyalty.

Secure, on-the spot fingerprint enrolment
Intesa Sanpaolo has 11.9 million customers and 4,400 branches in Italy. Gemalto's solution includes secure on-the-spot fingerprint enrolment at selected locations and, in the future, customers could potentially even enrol for the service at home. To ensure the right to privacy, biometric data is stored on the card itself, not the bank's servers. Protection is further enhanced by the fact that personal data is encrypted and never leaves the card.

"We are proud to have undertaken the first step to introduce in Italy a card which technology offers the consumers clear and concrete benefits, following our choice to anticipate and facilitate the diffusion of innovative technologies functional to people's everyday banking," said Cinzia Bruzzone, Retail Manager for Intesa Sanpaolo.

"Consumers are quickly recognizing the combined power of contactless and biometric technologies to take the stress and strain out of secure transactions," added Bertrand Knopf, executive vice president Banking and Payment for Gemalto.