January 2, 2015
According to Biometrics Research Group, mobile commerce adoption will accelerate due to impending wide-scale integration of biometric technology into smartphone. It’s only after Apple brought its fingerprint tech in iPhones that biometrics got attention again. Here are some interesting scenarios witnessed in biometric payments and authentication in 2014:
Apple’s Touch ID
When it comes to fingerprint based biometric authentication, the first thing that comes to mind is Apple’s Touch ID. It clearly has been the most popular and successful fingerprint based authentication system. With the advent of Apple Pay, Touch ID has become the ideal way to handle your money. In June 2014, during its WWDC event, Apple had announced that it was opening up the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to third-party app developers. Since then, Touch ID has witnessed wide scale adoption. A number of banks have integrated Touch ID into their banking app. Some of them include american express, ING Bank, OutBank DE, Deutsche Bank, Noris Bank, St. George Bank, Tangerine Bank, Bank of America, City Bank of Texas and others. Even big brands in payments such as Google Wallet and Alipay have adopted Touch ID as well.
App with Multiple Biometrics
Hoyos Labs, a company known for its digital infrastructure security solutions, recently launched an app called 1U which could replace the need for usernames, passwords and PINs. 1U leverages a user’s smartphone capabilities to acquire the user’s biometrics. The app supports multiple biometrics like facial & fingerprint and also certain characteristics of the eye. This acquired information can then be used to replace log-in information for thousands of websites including non-standard websites that require additional information like a site key in addition to username and password. Upon recognition, the app enables access to websites, assigned with 1U, ranging from social media sites to online banking accounts and others.
Authentication based on recognition of facial patterns of users did saw some initiatives in 2014. In 2013, Uniqul had announced itself as the world’s first face recognition payment system that enabled users to pay without credit/debit cards, smartphone or even a wallet. In the same year, Paypal had trialed a project that introduced a payment system which recognized customers by their first name and picture via a mobile application. In London, a company named Diebold had unveiled its ATM that worked by connecting to smartphones with the help of Facial Recognition technology instead of credit or debit cards.
In recent initiatives, the China Academy of Science (CAS) is poised to launch a payment app this year that would use facial recognition for authentication. When made available, users will be able to install the app and link it to their bank accounts or credit cards. The app would require users to take a photo of themselves in order to complete online payments.
Vein Pattern Scanning
This unique biometric authentication system came to light in April 2014. A Swedish student from the notable Lund’s university has introduced a technology that scans the user’s palm for vein patterns – and uses the individual pattern as a payment confirmation. The gadget called Quixter scans the vein pattern found in a person’s palms. People who are interested can sign up for Quixter at any store that supports it. To sign up, users need to provide their phone number as well as Social Security number. Thereafter, the service links to a bank account through a debit card whilst scanning your palm several times.
On 23rd June 2014, Barclays, a leading UK bank, had announced the introduction of a voice recognition system provided by Nuance Communications, that verifies a user based on their speech patterns. Barclay’s system works on voice biometrics, and was initially offered to customers in Barclays’ high net worth Wealth arm. Barclays is planning to roll out the service to its 12 Mn retail customers this year. The system utilizes Nuance’s FreeSpeech voice biometrics solution. It works by securely storing a recording of a customer’s voiceprint. After this initial recording, the customer will be able to talk to a customer service agent, during which time their voice is verified against these stored voiceprints.
On 26th June 2014, a Silicon Valley technology company known as VivaLnk announced the world’s first commercial eSkin electronics product – Digital Tattoo – that unlocks the Moto X smartphone. Digital Tattoo was developed with Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. ATAP is a small, agile skunkworks team within Google. The nickel sized, paper thin adhesive Digital Tattoo is worn on the wrist. Digital Tattoo provides electronic authentication to unlock the phone for use, when worn by the smartphone user. It remains to be seen whether this technology finds use in payments authentication.
Some prominent companies contributing to biometric authentication in payments space:
Bionym had announced a payment pilot project in November 2014 along with MasterCard, RBC and other issuing banks. The pilot project featured trials of a new prototype ‘Nymi Band’ tied to a MasterCard credit card for payment. Bionym is pioneering the world’s first biometrically authenticated wearable payment solution. The Nymi Band requires a single authentication, using your unique ECG to confirm your identity and will then remain activated until it is removed. This payment pilot has been developed based on existing standards for contactless payment and creates extensions on users’ existing cards. This new payments experience will work with all retailers that support contactless payments today without requiring any major changes.
Last year, Zwipe partnered with MasterCard to launch the world’s first first biometric contactless payment card. The payment card uses NFC and comes with an integrated fingerprint sensor. Zwipe’s secure biometric authentication technology holds the cardholder’s biometric data. The card contains an EMV certified secure element and MasterCard’s contactless application. The fingerprint data is stored directly on the card and not in an external database. After activation by a fingerprint scan, the Zwipe MasterCard card can be used to make a contactless payment.
The company renamed itself as Biyo last year. PulseWallet is a credit-card terminal that requires a one-time pairing of the vein pattern in a user’s hand with the user’s credit-card information, photographing the vein pattern with a built-in infrared camera. Once the pairing is done, any other PulseWallet terminal can be used for making payments. PulseWallet uses Fujitsu’s palm-vein-sensor technology, PalmSecure. The sensor shines a near-infrared light that captures the vein pattern on a person’s palm from a close proximity, and the info is compared with that of preregistered users.