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Fingerprint ID Coming to New DC/EP Card

Fingerprint authentication technologies are coming to a new card-based digital wallet solution for the Digital Currency/Electronic Payment (DC/EP) according to an expanded collaboration between China’s Chutian Dragon and IDEX Biometrics announced on Wednesday May 5.

Chutian Dragon is one of Asia’s largest smart card manufacturers that is participating in the DC/EP project with a potential to deliver digital currency applications. Their collaboration with the Norwegian provider of advanced fingerprint identification and authentication solutions is an extension of their 2019 license and commercialization agreement. They both aim to build on the momentum created by the consumer response to the multi-city trials of the DC/EP by China’s six largest banks in December 2020. They also seek to tap into the mandate to deploy the digital currency in time for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 which they think will continue to drive the pace of rapid development.

Since China is planning and building an infrastructure for mass digital payments – online or offline – to serve millions of unbanked and underbanked people in the country, the planned card-based digital wallet initiative is meant to benefit especially the nearly 45% of the Chinese population who do not have access to a smartphone thereby helping to narrow the digital divide in financial services, the two partnering companies note in a public statement.

In a separate post on Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), IDEX Biometrics notes on why the fingerprint feature is essential:

“For the average person, the new currency means lower bank or transaction charges and greater security from thieves and hackers. Stealing a traceable currency is less appealing than the anonymity of stealing a wallet but still possible – without a biometric payment card. That is one reason why the Postal Savings Bank of China is trialing cards equipped with fingerprint scanners developed by fintech partners IDEX Biometrics and Goldpac for transactions in the new currency… A biometric payment card is also smaller and cheaper than a smartphone and requires no battery. That means everyone can have one and be less dependent on network connectivity and power sockets. One trial combines digital payments into a medical ID card.”

The announcement comes as Dalian News reports that the Dalian branch of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) in the Liaoning Province and the Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) are starting digital yuan trials in villages. The move is seen as one of the government’s first attempts to take the central bank digital currency outside of urban areas which has been on trial in several major cities over the past year.

Together with the Municipal Agricultural and Rural Bureau, the Municipal Supply and Marketing Association and other government departments, the PBoC and PSBC are looking to bank on their advantages including having more branches in the county and countryside to focus on supporting farmers, promote the application of the digital yuan and help revitalize the economy, the report adds. It also notes that the PSBC’s Dalian branch has so far set up 224 stations in rural areas and completed 1,558 payment transactions.

With an agricultural output that accounts for more than 10% of the region’s GDP, the city seeks to use the pilot to drive its nearly 1000 villages to accept and use digital yuan and experience the convenience of electronic payment as it promotes the concepts of “inclusive finance” and “universal service”.

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