Biometric Signature Verification on Credit Cards in Development

March 18, 2013, Written By John H. Oldshue

Having to sign for a credit card transaction isn’t really effective if no one verifies the signature. It is easy to sloppily sign someone’s name on a piece of paper and leave a store with a fraudulent purchase. However, developers at Fraunhofer IGD have come up with a new way for stores to verify card signatures: biometrics.

With the Fraunhofer program, consumers will be required to register a signature in association with their credit cards, which will be stored in a secure database. A biometric reader will track the progression of a cardholder’s pen across a special touchscreen, thereby identifying that person’s unique signature. Once the same consumer reaches a checkout counter, he or she will have to sign for the transaction like normal. The card will have a special chip in it that links to the information in the database. The system will reference the movement and style of the new signature in contrast with the one on file to determine if there is a match.

While it may be easy to forge a signature over time, it is extremely difficult to forge the pattern of a signature. Something as simple as crossing a “t” in the opposite direction can be an indication of stolen identity. Thus, unless someone actually watches you sign for a package or credit card purchase, he or she would have quite a difficult time getting past biometric verification. This could significantly decrease identity theft at store level in the future.

Fraunhofer has just recently launched the prototype for this program, and there are still many kinks to work out. In theory though, this is a step in the right direction. Other biometric technologies are also in development right now, like the use of fingerprint or eyeball verification. These, like the signature tracking, are still in their infancy, but researchers have hope for the future.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 18, 2013. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.