Natural Security SAS has launched a contactless card payment system utilizing biometrics for authentication with its partner banks in France.

The Lille, France-based authentication technology provider says the pilot with Banque Accord, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa is its first step in an eventual global launch of its smartcard contactless payment system with biometrics

American banks are likely to watch closely as the U.S. continues its migration to the EMV chip-card standard, and financial institutions establish various layers of security to protect customer data.

Natural Security provides a mid-range contactless device that serves as a credit card holder and contains the biometric data of the card owner.

Cardholders who have been issued the device for the pilot will be able to make contactless payments at retailers Groupe Auchan and Leroy Merlin and others participating in the Lille and Bordeaux regions of France, Natural Security stated in an Oct. 25 press release.

Natural Security states the pilot will test two biometric technologies – digital fingerprints in one testing region, and finger vein patterns in another region.

Consumers completing transactions with the Natural Security system do not need to present their cards or enter a PIN. Instead, consumers would tap on, or move the device close to, the payment terminal reader, and then place a finger on an attached fingerprint reader to authorize their identity.

The company stated it has plans to expand the system for online shopping and card-not-present transactions with a fingerprint reader that would attach to a personal computer.

Natural Security says its new payment method includes an EMV payment card, and the card case with radio frequency identification capabilities to initiate contactless transactions and a chip storing biometric data. If the consumer loses the card case, no one else would be able to match the fingerprint scans stored in it, the company says.

In addition, the consumer can opt to turn off the wireless communication function of the case, and use the payment card as an EMV chip-and-PIN card.

During the test period through the end of the year, Natural Security hopes to compare and evaluate the two biometric options so as to validate the technology while also gauging reaction from consumers, retailers and issuing banks.

Some companies have already tried to offer biometric payment systems in the U.S. Notably, Solidus Networks Inc. allowed consumers to access a linked payment card using its Pay By Touch system at checkout lanes. Solidus disappeared after entering bankruptcy in 2007, but in recent years businesses such as tanning salons have revisited the fingerprint-payment concept.

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