UK payments market welcomes finger-vein biometrics

A music venue in London has trialed a new customer authentication technology that could be a sign of things to come in the payments market.

Fingopay is the result of a partnership between Japanese technology group Hitachi and British biometrics start-up Sthaler. It uses a reader to build a 3D map of the veins within a customer’s finger, creating a ‘personal key’ that is unique to that individual.

This is thought to be one of the most reliable forms of biometric authentication. The probability of two people having the same vein structure is 3.4 billion to one, according to Sthaler.

The payments system was trialed at Proud Camden in north London, on the premise that it would cut queues at the bar while enabling more secure transactions.

Nick Dryden, chief executive of Sthaler, said this technology has the potential to “transform the customer experience” by removing the need for cash, a phone or a card to make a payment.

Alex Proud, founder of the bar where the system was launched, commented: “We rely heavily on speed of service, dependable technology and securing our systems. As such we need to avoid time-consuming payment problems.”

The UK is one of many countries where biometric authentication could become an increasingly prominent part of the payments industry over the coming years.

In India, a long-term project to collect biometric data from the country’s 1.3 billion citizens has started to deliver visible change, with the recent launch of a government-backed fingerprint payment system.

Amitabh Kant, head of the National Institution for Transforming India, has suggested that the ability for people to complete transactions using just their thumb or eye could make all other payment methods obsolete.

However, the expansion of the country’s biometric database has raised concerns over privacy and security, suggesting that any move away from traditional payment channels won’t be without controversy.

 

Image: iStock/Rawpixel

Written by Jack Dougal