Forget contactless cards. You will soon be able to pay with your veins
The death of the plastic credit card could be a step closer as high street names including McDonald's and the Co-op prepare to test a breakthrough finger-scanning payment technology.
FingoPay, developed by British start-up Sthaler, uses a biometric reader to scan the veins of a shopper’s finger, building up a “map” that is unique to each individual.
By connecting this pattern with a credit card or bank account, the company plans to let shoppers pay simply by placing their finger in a pocket-sized scanner, doing away with cash and credit cards.
Sthaler, founded by former music industry executive Nick Dryden, will begin testing the technology next month in Proud, a London nightclub. Mr Dryden said McDonald's is experimenting with a pilot of the technology, and that Sthaler is also planning a project with Co-op’s food stores.
It comes amid growing interest in using biometric identification in payments, which backers believe are more secure and efficient than passwords and PINs. Apple Pay, which uses the iPhone’s fingerprint technology, launched in the UK last year and was followed by the Android equivalent in May.
Hendrik Kleinsmiede, the director of Visa Europe’s innovation arm Collab, which is backing Sthaler, said the Fingopay technology was less immune to problems such as wet and dusty fingers or fraud. “People are ready to accept biometrics as a secure authentication mechanism,” he said.
Sthaler says the chance that two people have the same vein structure is 3.4bn-to-one, making it virtually impossible to crack. The vein scanner, developed by Hitachi, is already being used by Barclays to identify business customers as well as in cash machines in Japan, but Sthaler has the unique rights to license it to retailers.
In the trial at Proud set to begin in September, the technology will be used to speed up waiting times at the bar both by cutting down on cards and by being able to suggest drinks based on what a patron has previously ordered.