NXP has become the first player in the emerging biometric payment cards market to reach an important milestone, announcing that its Secure Processing Module for fingerprint-on-card technology has become the first such solution to attain certification through Mastercard’s Compliance Assessment and Security Testing, or CAST, program.
A Secure and Efficient Solution
NXP says its module is designed to deliver a high level of security by keeping the tasks performed by its embedded Secure Element and its microcontroller separate. The microcontroller extracts biometric data from the card’s fingerprint sensor, while the Secure Element – which boasts of EMVCo and Common Criteria certification – performs the biometric matching. The latter then either confirms or refutes the match without sending out any data from the stored biometric template.
What’s more, the solution is power efficient, drawing energy from the 1.5A/m field strength emitted from most payment terminals; and it can be produced via standard manufacturing processes for payment cards.
“To offer the highest levels of security, integration, and convenience, NXP partnered with other experts in the industry,” NXP explained in a blog post announcing its CAST certification. Those partners are some of the biggest players in the biometrics industry: Precise Biometrics, which first teamed up with NXP on payment cards last June, provided the biometric algorithm software; and Fingerprint Cards, which partnered with NXP back in October of 2017, provided the fingerprint sensor.
FPC first announced its T-Shape fingerprint module just before its partnership with NXP, explaining at the time that it was designed specifically for smart card applications. It was a move that anticipated the development of the biometric payment cards market, and its use in an NXP module that is now CAST certified suggests it could pay off when commercial rollouts of biometric payment cards get underway.
Commenting on NXP’s CAST certification in a statement, Fingerprint Cards SVP Thomas Rex called it “a historic milestone for biometric payment cards, and a significant step on the road to enable secure and convenient payments for consumers around the world,” adding, “We are pleased to collaborate with NXP and to support them with our superior biometric solution as we approach the next step for wider commercial roll-out of biometric payment cards.”
The third major partner highlighted by NXP in its announcement, meanwhile, is LINXENS, which provided its BioLAM inlay solution for card manufacturing.
Coming Soon to a Wallet Near You
The certification, which is valid for three years, is clearly a major step forward for NXP and its partners toward the large-scale launch of biometric payment cards, with Precise Biometrics asserting that it expects modest initial volumes to start getting shipped as early as the end of this year. For its part, NXP explained in its announcement simply that the certification means it can now “move ahead with our product release, targeted soon.”