areeba debuts contactless biometric payment cards in the Middle East

Gemalto, one of the world leaders in digital security, is supplying its Visa biometric contactless bank card to areeba, a Lebanese fast-growing financial technology company that provides payment solutions for banks, governments, and merchants in the Middle East region.

This is the first time that contactless biometric card has been introduced in the Middle East or Africa. The biometric payment card can be used at thousands of standard POS terminals throughout Lebanon, offering shoppers countless opportunities to purchase their goods and services more conveniently, quickly and securely.

The pilot project with areeba is being undertaken in conjunction with Unilux Cards, Gemalto’s established partner in Lebanon. As a result, areeba’s clients will benefit from the support for a fully interoperable EMV payment card solution.

The biometric card includes the latest technology from Zwipe, a biometric technology company, and allows cardholders to authorize transactions by using its built-in fingerprint scanner rather than entering a PIN. The fingerprint is instantly compared with the cardholder’s biometric data safely stored in the card. Whether used in contact or contactless mode, the process is completely intuitive, ensuring a smooth experience. The card is powered from the POS terminal, eliminating the need for an on-board battery. For added reassurance, the biometric card has the option of conventional PIN-based authentication, as an alternative protection for higher value transactions.

Maher Mikati, CEO of areeba, said: “areeba is committed to investing in new capabilities that deliver better and more secure payment solutions; using fingerprint technology to authenticate a person for payments will provide cardholders a faster, easier and more secure payment process compared to the traditional use of PINs. We are proud to partner with Visa, Gemalto and Zwipe to run this pilot program in the Middle East and make this innovative product available for financial institutions who are keen to integrate biometric technology into their payment cards to enhance convenience and reduce fraud.”

“Since its inception, Unilux Cards has been committed to champion a cashless, more secure world. Through our collaboration with Gemalto and Zwipe, we’re proud to introduce a new way to do business for areeba’s clients and are very excited to be part of this journey,” said Ronald Nacouzi, managing director, at Unilux Cards

“Our latest payment card innovation marries biometric strong authentication and contactless, two of the most powerful forces currently shaping the consumer landscape,” said Nassir Ghrous, senior vice president digital banking and payments for the CISMEA region at Gemalto. “By introducing the biometric card to the MEA region, areeba is also marking the beginning of a new era – one that will ultimately spell an end to the need for PINs and passwords.”

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