It’s not a sci-fi, it’s here! Use your payment card securely with biometric authentication

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Marcel Klimo, the host of Inside the Vacuum, had a chance to jump on a call with Angela Davies, Head of Sales at Thames Technology, during the Pay360 online event organized by Payments Association (The Payments Association).We usually don’t carry much cash around these days, most of the people prefer to use cashless and contactless payment solutions. If someone would like to pay by a payment card instead of a phone, how could the authentication be more secure?

‘What if you don’t want to touch the pin pad, especially in the times of Coronavirus, or if you just want to make the whole process more secure, but at the same time, not have to touch anything while you are paying. There’s a solution for that, it’s called a biometric payment card.’ – Marcel Klimo

The card manufacturer background

Thames Technology is a card manufacturer. They are also present in within the gift card market and the retail environment.

Thames were certified to enter the banking world in 2003 and within the scope they manufacture payment cards certified with Visa, MasterCard soon to be certified with UnionPay.

They have to be very secure as a site, go through annual audits, and meet the regulations to remain compliant. They do the manufacturing all the way through to the personalization on one site in the UK.

‘We have the manufacturer of the cards and then they go into our bureau where we personalize the cards. Mostly they’re dispatched directly to the end-user. So when you receive your new prepaid card or your credit card or debit card, it would be coming from a manufacturer just as Thames.’ – Angela Davies

3 things that make Thames different on the market


Thames Technology are quick to deliver payment cards.

‘Having it all in one space, we can have cards out within a matter of weeks, into our personalization bureau and out the door. We tend to be a better place in the fintech environment.’ – Angela Davies


Thames Technology also manufactures biometric payment cards. They can basically include a fingerprint sensor into the actual card. The model of the fingerprint is held on the physical card on a chip, instead of in a database.

The solution has been piloted for a while now, but with the spread of coronavirus, this is probably the time for it to become much more prominent.

‘I’m just really fascinated by the fact that you can now have payment cards that have biometric readers in them, so you can actually authenticate people as they’re paying.’ – Marcel Klimo

Risk reduction

The biometric authentication has a competitive advantage on the market of non-touch payment options.

‘Contactless, as you can imagine, has brought in an element of risk. We know that we’re not going through a two-factor authentication when we’re using our contactless card. There’s no pin to add or a fingerprint that you might have on your phone.’ – Angela Davies

The contactless payment limit has been increased in the UK from £30 to £45, to help stop coronavirus spreading. As opposed to traditional payment cards, with a biometric payment card you don’t need to set a limit for a contactless transaction. It is a secure way of authenticating the user of the card, even more secure than using a pin, therefore the schemes are very much in favor of this innovation.

Innovation adoption

‘That sounds like some sort of sci-fi future where you’re pulling out that card and you’re authenticating yourself with a fingerprint. It seems very futuristic.’ – Marcel Klimo

Angela explained that there was a lot of fear around biometric safety 5 to 10 years ago, but the hygiene concerns and the need to avoid having to touch devices have brought a new opportunity for the spread of the technology.

‘I guess, fintechs and banks or issuers out there would really like having this in their portfolio because it showcases that they care about what’s happening out there in the world and they want to keep people safe and secure.’ – Marcel Klimo

‘One of the reasons that biometrics is more acceptable nowadays, is actually because of the likes of Apple and the likes of the mobile phone industry have allowed us to embrace biometric tech without feeling necessarily vulnerable. Because of them, we know it’s held locally, we know it’s held within our device as such, and I think that would help the adoption of biometrics within general society.’ – Angela Davies


If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more interesting stories of founders, technology providers, or vendors from the fintech, payments, and banking industry, don’t forget to subscribe to Inside the Vacuum on one of the major podcasting platforms. If you have any recommendations for more guests, please don’t hesitate to contact Marcel Klimo.

Inside the Vacuum podcast explores the lives and journeys of founders and technology leaders as they work to overcome challenges while building products in an ever-changing world. This episode was hosted by Marcel Klimo from Vacuumlabs. Listen to the original podcast episode on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify, or here:

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