New tech to pay using what you are

Zwipe’s fingerprint technology is replacing PINs in select MasterCards, winning awards

Photo courtesy of Zwipe The fingerprint sensor on the pilot MasterCards works by verifying the biometric data stored in the card, so that only its owner can make purchases using that card.

Photo courtesy of Zwipe
The fingerprint sensor on the pilot MasterCards works by verifying the biometric data stored in the card, so that only its owner can make purchases using that card.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Zwipe was founded in 2009 by Kim Humborstad, who was just out of college. Today the company has 15 employees in Oslo and America. The fast-growing startup is based on using fingerprints as identification. The core technology is a self-contained biometric authentication engine for a number of platforms, including access cards. Users authenticate themselves not through something they know (pin/code) or solely carry (a standard card) but through something they are (their fingerprint).

The company has been chosen by MasterCard to take on the task of disrupting the payments industry by revealing the world’s first biometric contactless payments card. The card has been used in a pilot with a Norwegian bank and more banks are coming. All the biometric data is stored on the card so there is no central database. Your PIN code is replaced by your fingertip.

Humborstad participated in the Young Enterprise program at the University College in Porsgrunn, Telemark, in 2008. His company was number two in Norway among student enterprises. In 2009 they received the FERD Award for the largest international potential and the Best Student Innovation in Europe. In 2013 Humborstad participated in the company development program Tech Incubator (TINC) in Silicon Valley. The founder says that support from Innovation Norway has been of great importance in the early stage. He also participated in a Springboard with Connect. In 2013 he went with Connect to San Diego where they presented the startup for the American Connect network.

The world’s first fingerprint authenticated payment card was unveiled by MasterCard last year, following a partnership with the company. The Zwipe MasterCard uses a fingerprint sensor on the card in order to authenticate contactless payments and can be integrated seamlessly with existing payment technologies. Zwipe has already developed the card back in Norway in collaboration with the bank Sparebanken DIN, and the partnership with MasterCard should see a much wider rollout of the technology. According to one of the developers in the bank, the increased speed of the transaction and increased security allows users, merchants, and banks to have peace of mind.

The Zwipe biometric card was named best product for user authentication, identification, credentialing, and management at this year’s ISC West tradeshow in Las Vegas. They also won the Best Identity Innovation at the Cartes America conference.

MasterCard is used in 200 countries. Next year forget PIN codes on their card. Zwipe is growing and hiring!

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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