UK bank to trial fingerprint technology for card payments

  • Two hundred customers are to take part in the pilot, which will enable them to use their fingerprint to verify payments.
  • "Contactless" refers to a cashless method of paying for something, whereby a customer physically hovers or places their card or contactless device over a reader to make a payment.
NatWest is testing bank cards that let customers use their fingerprint to authorize transactions.
NatWest
NatWest is testing bank cards that let customers use their fingerprint to authorize transactions.

U.K. bank NatWest is to launch a trial of biometric fingerprint technology for card payments.

Two hundred customers are to take part in the pilot, which will enable them to use their fingerprint to verify payments of more than £30 ($39.11).

In an announcement Sunday, NatWest said the technology would boost security and make it easier for customers to make payments for goods and services at tills.

At the moment, users of contactless cards need to input their PIN if making purchases over £30. In certain circumstances people using contactless payment technology, such as a smartphone, can exceed this limit.

Contactless payment refers to a cashless method of paying for something, whereby a customer physically hovers or places their debit card, credit card or contactless device over a reader to make a payment.

NatWest's new card will contain a customer's fingerprint data and a sensor. To authorize a payment over £30, users place their finger on the sensor.

NatWest, which is a member of the RBS Group, said it was working with Gemalto, a digital security firm, as well as Visa and Mastercard to roll out the service to its U.K. customers.

"We are using the very latest technology across our business to make banking easier for our customers and biometric fingerprint cards are one of the many technologies we are exploring further," David Crawford, head of effortless payments at NatWest, said in a statement.

"This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and we are excited to trial the service," Crawford added.

Whether it's through using phones, cards or smartwatches, the rise of contactless payment technology has made it easier for consumers to pay for items without needing to use a PIN.

In the U.K., the number of contactless payments grew by 97 percent in 2017, hitting 5.6 billion, according to U.K. Finance. There were almost 119 million contactless cards in circulation at the end of 2017, according to the trade association.

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