The major stumbling block for the widespread adoption of the card is likely to be how the bank initially obtains the customer’s fingerprint. NatWest said customers in the trial would have to visit their local branch so that the bank could copy their fingerprint, but it is working on ways to capture the data remotely.
The technology has been developed by a Dutch company, Gemalto, which is also behind a similar trial launched in December by Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s biggest bank.
Gemalto said: “Fingerprint authentication sweeps away limits on the value of contactless payments, removing the need to enter a pin or sign the receipt. As a result, it simplifies the consumer experience at the point of sale and makes it faster and safer.”
It said that as a security measure the customer’s fingerprint was stored on the card itself, not the bank’s servers.
Users of Google Pay or Apply Pay on smartphones are likely to be suspicious of how widely the so-called biometric payment systems will be accepted by retailers. In theory, mobile users can already authenticate contactless payments above £30 on their smartphones using fingerprint technology, but in practice many have found the process frustrating.