A new credit card capable of recognising fingerprints has ben developed by a European-wide research project team.
Engineers at German microelectronics specialist Infineon Technologies are working on a card embedded with a biometric sensor.
The card, called Finger Card, could be used for more than one purpose at the same time, possibly acting as both a debit/credit card and a pay-as-you-go public transport card.
Infineon is also working on the possibility of adding displays to the cards, allowing the user to check his or her bank balance at the touch of their fingertip, without having to go to a cash machine.
The user’s fingerprint must match the owner’s stored print before the card can be used, making stealing a card or even PIN number pointless, said Marcus Janke, project manager for Finger Card at Infineon.
‘The card itself will check if it is being used by its owner. If the print is correct it will be activated, if wrong it is blocked,’ he said.
The person using the credit card puts a finger over the embedded silicon sensor when swiping a reader or inserting the card into a cash machine. The sensor extracts data from the user’s finger as an image, and the card’s microprocessor is then able to analyse that information to determine whether it is the correct print.
The fingerprint sensors can be embedded into any card, including both credit and debit cards, access control cards for buildings or stored information, and personal identification cards.
As the user’s fingerprint information is stored on the card itself and not on any central database to which a criminal might be able to gain access, it is a highly secure system, said Janke.
The research project, which is being funded by the European Commission, is due to finish at the end of June, and Infineon is already working on a prototype to demonstrate the technology’s suitability for a variety of security applications.