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MeReal Biometrics Combines Biometrics and NFC Technologies for New Card Solution

The company, based in France and Hong Kong, is selling an ID card for the hospitality industry that leverages Near Field Communication, as well as biometrics and acoustic signals, to vary the level of security for access control, payments and VIP services.
By Claire Swedberg

MeReal was cofounded in 2009 by Patrick Partouche, a casino and hotel group owner and operator, and Philippe Blot, whose background is in the "powered card" manufacturing industry, and before that in cyphering technology. The company says its goal is to disrupt the standard access-control card industry and digital-payments market, by providing the hospitality industry—among others—with a security and access-control solution that uses multiple technologies.

The card is intended to provide more than just access control, Blot says. The battery-powered biometric system-on-card, which features built-in fingerprint biometric capability, an acoustic signature emitter and an NFC chip, is being marketed for VIP and loyalty service, as well as for payments and security. It can be loaded with funds and be used for physical and online access, or make payments in a closed or open network. It comes with a portable charger and can transmit data via NFC or sound if a reader or microphone is available. With the NFC functionality, the device can also be used with an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet.

Patrick Partouche
When the company was founded, its goal was to create a card that would meet the requirements of European regulators. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), established in 2016, dictates how personal identification, as of May 2018, can be required, while protecting and simplifying the authentication process for citizens. While biometrics can ensure the authenticity of a person entering a facility or making a payment, EU regulations mandate that companies cannot require biometric data from people under all conditions.

For instance, at certain public doors and during specified times of the day, the companies must allow access without requiring a fingerprint. It's more than just a matter of privacy, Blot explains—it's a question of civil rights. How many times, he notes, can a company require an individual to stop and present his or her fingerprint in order to access a building or to gamble, for instance?

Hong Kong, where MeReal Biometrics is headquartered, is presently looking into similar protections as more companies are asking citizens to present ID cards or ID numbers to access basic needs, says Kate Davies, MeReal Biometrics' head of marketing.

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