The first biometric fingerprint credit card issued by a UK bank has begun its three-month national trial. NatWest is piloting cutting-edge, biometric fingerprint technology with 150 customers, in partnership with Mastercard and Gemalto, a Thales Company.

The bank has previously piloted biometric debit cards, but this will be the first-time credit cards have been issued. The biometric credit cards will offer contactless payments using fingerprint verification for transactions up to £100, an increase on the current £30 limit.

As well as retaining contactless functionality, the fully integrated card can be used as normal in ATMs and for online shopping. Additionally, there are no hardware changes needed to accept biometric cards, so cardholders can use them at existing contactless and Chip and PIN terminals. The card is powered through the card terminal and when a customer presents a card, a green light on the card indicates that the fingerprint has been matched successfully.

Enrolment is simple and takes as little as five minutes. A customer can register in the comfort of their home using a plastic sleeve. Once a digital fingerprint is locked onto a card, it cannot be changed. The user’s biometric data never leaves the card, is never shared with the merchant or bank, and no fingerprints are stored in a cloud. This ensures that biometric data cannot be accessed or used outside the card.

Georgina Bulkeley, Director of Innovation, NatWest said “After the successful pilot of our biometric debit card we are looking to test the technology further with credit cards. This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and not having to enter a PIN not only increases security but makes it easier for our customers when paying for goods or services.”

NatWest is working closely with Mastercard and digital security company Gemalto to bring the service to customers in the UK.

Bob Reany, Executive Vice president, Identity Solutions, Mastercard said “Feeling confident that your information is protected is paramount. We, along with our partners, are building biometric cards that recognize an individual rather than a password or PIN. Biometrics are more secure, more trusted and better suited to a world that requires more frequent authentication.”

Howard Berg, Senior Vice president, UK Ireland and Switzerland of Gemalto, a Thales Company, said “Biometric have a big role in the future of payments and we’re pleased that more NatWest customers will be the first to try out this simple, convenient and secure way to pay. Authenticating payments with a fingerprint isn’t just easy – it boosts security and opens the door to larger contactless payments. We’ll work very closely with NatWest as the trial progresses to address feedback from users and make sure they’re getting the best experience possible.”