NatWest Pilots Biometric Bank Card

NatWest pilots their new biometric debit card in the UK.

May 20, 2019
NatWest Pilots Biometric Bank Card
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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Technology has brought about some significant changes in the financial industry over the last few years. Challenger banks have disrupted the market with their digital-only banking products, harnessing the power of the internet to bring a new way of managing money.

Contactless payments are ubiquitous, and now banking giants NatWest have unveiled a new technology. They recently took a huge step forward into a new era of card payments with the introduction of their first biometric debit card.

NatWest Biometric Visa Card
NatWest's Biometric Visa debit card

What is a Biometric Bank Card?

Biometric authentication is becoming commonplace. Whether it’s the fingerprint reader on your smartphone or iris scanners that open your computer, they’re incredibly useful. Biometric bank cards work on a similar principle. They have a fingerprint sensor built into the body of the card, allowing you to make a payment with a touch. 

NatWest worked with Gemalto to launch their PIN-less, fingerprint debit card

Of course, you can already make payments without entering your PIN using contactless technology. However, with a biometric bank card, you don’t have to limit yourself to the £30 maximum per purchase. What’s more, this technology can be used with existing card readers.

NatWest’s Biometric Bank Card

NatWest has launched a small trial of their biometric card. Around 200 customers across RBS and NatWest accounts have received one, which can be used during the three-month trial. These customers will be able to authorise card and contactless purchases using their fingerprint, even if it’s above the current £30 limit.

The cards use Gemalto’s biometric payment technology, which will hopefully boost security. Customers have to register their fingerprint to use with the card, and they can then authenticate payments.

Is this the future of bank cards?

There have been some pretty significant advances in debit card technology over the last few years. They’re now more secure than ever before. However, this latest advancement has been highly anticipated and marks significant progress. The technology was previously tested in Cyprus and Italy, so it’s incredibly exciting to see it debut in the UK.

NatWest Premier Biometric Visa Card
NatWest biometric debit cards could be used in the future

These biometric bank cards bring a host of useful features. They’re quicker and more convenient than traditional chip and PIN methods of payment and are also safer.

The fact that authentication is tied specifically to such a unique identifier means that fraud concerns are almost eliminated. Of course, these cards still have a PIN number associated with them in case the technology doesn't work. However, the risks are significantly less.

NatWest has partnered with Visa and Mastercard for this venture. Hopefully, this means that we’ll see the technology become commonplace in the future.

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Mentioned Banks

NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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