The next time you swipe your debit or credit card at a point-of-sale terminal, you may be asked for biometric authentication. This is because your Aadhaar number will soon be linked to your bank account to reduce cases of fraud.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will begin the process of mapping Aadhaar numbers with card numbers at the backend once it receives the green signal from the Reserve Bank of India.
According to UIDAI officials, biometric authentication will be done using a USB biometric scanner costing R2,000, which will be connected to the card swipe machine at point of sale (PoS) terminals.
In fact, the RBI had proposed — though at the pilot project level — double authentication of credit card transactions through Aadhaar as the move would make transactions at ATMs and PoS or merchant terminals more secure.
Based on the recommendations of the Gowri Mukherjee-led working group — formed for securing card-present transactions — the RBI said that banks
could consider the Aadhaar biometric authentication, along with the MagStripe (magnetic stripe), as an additional factor for authentication for card-present transactions at ATMs and POS terminals.
Magnetic stripe card and biometric (Aadhaar finger print) data checks protect against both domestic counterfeit (skimming) and lost or stolen card fraud.
The biometric data, captured by the UIDAI, can be used as authentication for protection as the cardholder has to be physically present at the POS terminal/ATM to authenticate the transaction.
Even if the card is counterfeited, the fraudster will not be able to use it as the biometrics of the customer would be required.
The authority had done a pilot project in January when a few thousand transactions were conducted using Aadhaar authentication.
“New issue of cards need not happen if the biometric authentication can be done simultaneously. However, a few banks are not supportive of this scheme. If banks want to issue new cards, then the Aadhaar number will be integrated with it,” a UIDAI official said.
At present, EMV machines or the card swipe terminals depend on cards with embedded integrated circuits or chips.
These are better than cards with magnetic strips, whose data can be skimmed relatively easily, say experts.
However, these chips and pin codes are no match for biometric data which is unique to each individual.