UK’s first biometric supermarket lets you pay using the veins in your hand
Costcutters at Brunel University in London has become the UK’s first supermarket to let you pay with your fingers.
Using technology developed by a company called Sthaler, a finger scanner is fitted at the till and is used to retrieve the person’s bank card details, using payment provider Worldpay.
Instead of reading your fingerprint, however, the technology uses the unique pattern of veins underneath the skin on the fingertip.
Sthaler is rumoured to be in “serious talks” with supermarkets with the aim to bring these kind of finger scanners into stores across the UK.
Finger scanners are used at cash points in places like Japan, Poland and Turkey but this is the first time the biometric technology has been used in a supermarket.
Students are already using the finger scanning system, which is called ‘Fingopay’, and the company expects 3,000 students to have signed up for it by November.
Don’t worry about someone cutting off your fingers and stealing your money either because you need to be alive for the system to work.
“When you put your finger in the scanner it checks you are alive, it checks for a pulse, it checks for haemoglobin,” Simon Binns, commercial director of Sthaler, told the Telegraph. “Your vein pattern is secure because it is kept on a database in an encrypted form, as binary numbers. No card details are stored with the retailer or ourselves, it is held with Worldpay, in the same way it is when you buy online.”
The companies hope this kind of biometric security will take off because of the convenience to customers and increased security. Businesses have been using fingerprint scanners for years, claiming it’s safer than rival biometric solutions and could do away with PINs and passwords entirely.
But the new finger vein scanning technology is different. A pulse of infrared light is used to scan the vein pattern, and unlike fingerprints, the pattern cannot be stolen, according to Sthaler.
“In our view, finger vein technology has a number of advantages over fingerprint,” said Nick Telford-Reed, director of technology innovation at Worldpay UK.
“This deployment of Fingopay in Costcutter branches demonstrates how consumers increasingly want to see their payment methods secure and simple.”