Natwest Becomes First UK Bank to Release Biometric Debit Card

The new cards, which will allow users to access their funds through fingerprint technology, have entered circulation.

In addition to contactless features, the biometric option will be available for purchases above £30, hence making the use of a PIN completely redundant for Natwest customers. The new cards are currently being trialled by 200 users.

The fingerprint will be registered to an account. This can be done from the comfort of one’s own home rather than needing to come into a Natwest branch, making it easy for customers to upgrade to a biometric card. The biometric data will not be stored by the bank but will rather be held on the card itself, hence customers need not worry about the bank having their fingerprint on file.

The cards will work as normal in ATMs with a Chip and Pin function and will simply improve the ease with which customers can make payments. It will also enhance security as there is no possibility of guessing one’s PIN and the fingerprint is completely unique to the owner. For the more forgetful customers, it will also improve their spending experience as they do not need to agonise about remembering their PIN.

A survey by IDEX Biometrics last year found that 53% of people in the UK would feel more secure using fingerprint technology than a PIN. The hesitancy of the remaining 47% can be explained by their concerns about Natwest storing their data on their systems. Natwest’s decision to only store the data on the card should alleviate this concern and is expected to boost public confidence in the new technology.

IDEX Biometric’s SVP, Dave Orme, said: “The next step is for banks and Government bodies to build consumer confidence and demonstrate that personal information is far safer and better protected as a result of biometric innovation for payments, identification and beyond.”

Head of Payments NatWest, David Crawford, commented: “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. This is the biggest development in card technology in recent years and it’s great to finally see the cards in the hands of our customers.”