The global market for smart cards represents a mass-market opportunity for IDEX due to the increasing need to secure payment transactions and verify user identity. The rising use of the smart cards in various sectors such as banking, government, healthcare, and telecommunication has helped the global smart card market to grow exponentially over the past several years. While integrating biometrics into a smart card adds an obvious layer of enhanced secure authentication and identification, implementation for mass adoption has always represented a significant technological challenge. IDEX’s advancements in fingerprint sensor technology have recently made integrated biometrics with on-device matching a commercial reality.

IDEX’s unique value proposition

Biometric cards require a specialized fingerprint sensor solution compared to those found in other applications. For example, mobile handsets have a power source, significant processing capability and offer structural protection for the sensor itself. Biometric enabled cards must be thin, bendable and require limited processing power. IDEX has developed the world’s first touch sensor for ISO ID-1 form factor cards made from a thin, flexible polymer that is specifically designed for smart and ID card applications. Using a standard card manufacturing process, the solution integrates a secure on-card matcher and is commercially deployable for use with existing payment point of sale (POS) terminals. Leveraging its off-chip sensor and other innovative solutions developed in close collaboration with its top-tier ecosystem partners, IDEX has established a leadership position in the biometric cards industry.

Evidence of market penetration

IDEX has made significant strides to advance commercial global deployment of fingerprint enabled cards. After two years of coordinated development, in April 2017 Mastercard unveiled its next generation biometric card featuring IDEX’s first of its kind fingerprint sensor. Two successful end-user trials with the card have since been conducted in South Africa with Pick n Pay, a leading supermarket retailer, and with Absa Bank, a subsidiary of Barclays Africa. Following additional trials with the biometric card in Europe and in Asia-Pacific, the biometric card is expected to undergo a final certification process in advance of a broader rollout in late 2017.

Emerging market opportunities

In addition to ongoing trials of Mastercard’s biometric card programme, IDEX recently launched an industry-leading touch sensor for ready for contactless cards to further capitalize on this sizable market opportunity. The solution has specifically been designed to function without an extra battery or supercapacitor, while still delivering excellent quick-match accuracy and performance. The contactless card sensor is enabled by IDEX’s new generation ASIC, which significantly lowers the power consumption. Additionally, the ASIC’s on-board MCU increases the processing power and lowers the cost point, resulting in an ideal sensor for contactless cards. Once introduced, the solution is anticipated to further increase IDEX’s leadership position in both the payment and ID card markets.