SmartMetric Inc. says it is in the advanced development stages of a plastic payment card that will unlock through a fingerprint scan and operate as a digital wallet.
The biometric SmartMetric Card Wallet will operate with an EMV surface chip and an internal Near Field Communication chip. SmartMetrics announcement this week takes advantage of some publicity headwind Coin created last week in revealing its own multi-account card with a dynamic magnetic stripe.
Much like yet-to-launch Coin, SmartMetric hasn't revealed many details about its plans for the SmartMetric Card Wallet or how it will work other than claims that it's in development and that the embedded fingerprint scanner differentiates it from other competitors. And neither company is the first to dive into the concept of a multi-card account stored on a single plastic card.
Coins plastic card allows consumers to switch payment methods through the use of a button on the battery-powered card. Coins website says consumers can preorder the cards, capable of holding eight accounts on the device and an unlimited number of cards on its accompanying mobile app, for $50.
In an interview with PaymentsSource, SmartMetric CEO Chaya Hendrick declined to provide specific details about how her companys card will operate at the point of sale. But she suggests that the card wallet will garner attention because it bypasses the use of a smartphone or dealing with mobile network operators and secure elements inside handsets.
I can tell you that this plastic card wallet represents a huge difference to the current wallet approach taking place in the industry, Hendrick says.
The biometric cards chip will have enough memory to allow consumers to store more than 100 regular credit cards, Hendrick says.
In addition, SmartMetric has designed the card and its chips to work with any existing point-of-sale technology available today, Hendrick adds.
SmartMetric is based in Argentina, but also has offices in Bay Harbor Island, Fla. and Tel Aviv, Israel. The card wallet is currently in testing and Hendrick would not disclose when or where the company intends to launch the product.
The card will feature a self-powered in-card fingerprint reader that a user will activate when swiping a finger across what SmartMetric calls a pencil-line-thin sensor.
The reader immediately compares the scan to that of the card owners pre-stored fingerprint, which is encrypted and stored in the cards memory, SmartMetric states in a press release. Validation occurs in less than one second through the processor inside of the card, SmartMetric says.
The card is a standard size payment card, Hendrick says. It will appear no different than other payment cards.
SmartMetric will provide issuers a small EMV card-reading USB adaptor for use in securing online transactions with the in-card fingerprint activation and user verification.
The only mass appeal solution is one that will provide ubiquitous payment possibilities across all financial systems, Hendrick says.
Because the U.S. has taken so long to adopt years-old EMV smart card technology, the country is not likely to advance mobile payments through smartphones as a ubiquitous system, Hendrick says. As such, SmartMetric is positioned well to introduce the wallet concept on a plastic card, she adds.
Earlier this month, SmartMetric announced it would seek funding for technology expansion and to help pay for legal costs in its ongoing $13.4 billion patent infringement suit against Visa and MasterCard.
The funding announcement came prior to SmartMetrics Nov. 19 Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure of its third quarter 2013 financial results, in which the company posted a net loss of more than $1 million. The SEC disclosure says SmartMetric meets the Financial Accounting Standards Board's definition as a "development stage enterprise," and since its founding in December 2002, the company has spent nearly $17 million developing its technology and has never generated any revenue.
"There is no guarantee that the Company will be able to raise enough capital or generate revenues to sustain its operations," the company says in the disclosure. "These conditions raise substantial doubt about the Companys ability to continue as a going concern."
Even though it has suffered initial ruling setbacks, the company remains mired in its legal fight with MasterCard and Visa over allegations that the card brands violated a SmartMetric technology patent for routing EMV smart-card transactions.