Mastercard eyes biometric poverty cards

Mastercard eyes biometric poverty cards

Mastercard, a leading global payments and technology company, has suggested the Thai government add biometric-based authentication when issuing welfare cards for the poor to reduce possible fraud.

Having this additional method will help ensure safety in digital transactions, particularly e-payment, said Donald Ong, country manager for Thailand and Myanmar.

He said digital transformation plays a greater role in Thailand's economy and will account for nearly 20% of the country's GDP this year.

Mr Ong said Mastercard has coordinated with several governments around the globe in designing and deploying secure payment systems as well as raising awareness and preventive tools for cybersecurity threats and fraud.

For a biometric-based model, he said the company has put essential components in multiple layers of systems and processes to advance secure transactions for banks, merchants and users.

Under the biometric system, merchants would benefit from safer transactions, said Mr Ong.

Last year the Finance Ministry issued 11.4 million welfare cards as part of its poverty scheme for poor people to buy essentials through electronic data capture machines.

Alexander Niejelow, senior vice-president for public policy of Mastercard, said biometric authentication tools is one method to help eliminate fraud. The company made social welfare cards for South Africa to ensure they could only be accessed by authorised holders.

"Fingerprint verification is basic and easier than remembering a password," said Mr Niejelow.

Mastercard is setting up a cybercrime unit to share insights on cyberthreats and vulnerability with other stakeholders to prevent threats in real-time and respond to incidents.

"Cybersecurity needs public and private partnership to deal with the issue," he said. The rise of Internet of Things devices, which are estimated to reach 25 billion devices by 2025, will increase the vulnerability of security, said Mr Niejelow.

It is vital to educate not only the government and big corporations but also public users on how to protect their devices and prevent data breaches, he said.

The Thales Data Threat report 2018 conducted by 451 Research, an information technology industry analyst firm, found 78% of 1,200 organisations surveyed worldwide said they would increase spending on IT security this year. The number is up from 73% it surveyed last year.

Mr Niejelow said governments and universities have an urgent task in increasing cybersecurity workforces to prepare for the digital economy and e-payment systems. There is a labour shortage as global demand suggests up to 2.5 million jobs in the field, he said.

Designers of digital product and services must mind design principle security.

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