Lebanon-based financial technology company areeba has partnered with Gemalto to roll out the first Visa biometric contactless EMV card in the Middle East.

For this pilot project, Gemalto also turned to Unilux Cards, its established partner in the country.

The new contactless card can be used for fast and secure transactions at numerous Visa accepting point-of-sale (POS) terminals across Lebanon.

It features a biometric technology from the Norwegian firm Zwipe that enables fingerprint-based authorisation of payments through a built-in scanner, eliminating the need for manual PIN entry.

The fingerprint is immediately validated with the cardholder’s biometric data that is safely stored in the card.

The card can also be used for standard contact transactions and allows PIN authentication for enhanced security during higher value transactions.

Gemalto senior-vice president of digital banking and payments for CISMEA region Nassir Ghrous said: “Our latest payment card innovation marries biometric strong authentication and contactless, two of the most powerful forces currently shaping the consumer landscape.

“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.”

areeba CEO Maher Mikati said: “We are proud to partner with Visa, Gemalto and Zwipe to run this pilot programme 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.”