While fingerprint scanners and pupil readers are interesting, Swedes have an even better alternative to biometric payment methods: a vein-pattern scanner that could make shopping an even greater experience than it already is.
Fingerprint scanners, while really cool for common people, are easily hackable, as proven by the Chaos Computer Club group of hackers that managed to bypass Apple’s Touch ID less than 48 hours after the launch of the iPhone 5S. This year, Samsung launched the Galaxy S5, which presumably packs a better fingerprint scanner in its Home button, and announced partnerships with various developers, among which PayPal is worth mentioning.
Fredrik Leifland, the engineering student at the Lund University who developed the vein-pattern scanner, explained how some stores and coffee shops from his native country started accepting payments authenticated with the hand: “We had to connect all the players ourselves, which was quite complex: the vein scanning terminals, the banks, the stores and the customers. The next step was finding ways of packaging it into a solution that was user friendly.”
Obviously, Leifland had to first get very frustrated while standing in line at a store prior to coming up with the idea for this new technology. Two years ago, when that happened, he realized that even payments with credit cards take a lot of time, and that a new payment method could cut down waiting time drastically.
Leifland furthermore pointed out that this system is basically impossible to bypass, unlike other biometric authentication methods: “Every individual’s vein pattern is completely unique, so there really is no way of committing fraud with this system. You always need your hand scanned for a payment to go through.”
At the moment, 15 stores from around the Lund University campus have terminals that enable the 1,600 registered users to pay using nothing more than just their hand. The number of active users is bound to grow, since people have a lot of confidence in the safety of this new payment method. When getting to one of the 15 stores, people have to enter their social security number and a phone number at the terminal. After scanning their hand three times, they receive an activation link via a text message. As soon as this process is over, they can proceed to using their hand as a payment method in the accepting stores.
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