Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fingerprint payment option checks to make sure someone didn’t cut off your finger

Fingerprint scanner
Wallets can get cumbersome and annoying — there’s even a whole Seinfeld episode about it. If it’s cold out and you’re wearing gloves, or just happen to have full pockets, having to reach into your pants for your wallet becomes a hassle, then trying to slip cash or a credit card out of it often remains troubling. One college in South Dakota understands your first-world problem, and debuted a fingerprint-scanning payment system so you can leave your wallet in the glass bowl by the front door of your apartment where it belongs.
At he School of Mines & Technology, in South Dakota, two vendors on campus are now employing biocryptology in order to speed up the payment process. The system works via two main components: Being able to verify the person swiping his or her finger, then being able to use the identification to link to a customer account and make a charge. Like when asked to show your ID when using a credit card, the finger-scanning system attempts to verify the swiper in order to preventfraud — in this case, by detecting that the swiper’s blood is flowing. After the purchase is made, the shop sends a receipt to the customer’s email, which can be instantly viewed in 2013, the age of smartphones.
Now, though fingerprint-scanning verification systems are uncommon, they’re not exactly rare, or even new. Certain gyms, for instance, employ a fingerprint scanner so patrons can check in without having to carry around a membership card. However, the technology isn’t entirely secure — it’s not that difficult to reproduce a fingerprint. No one’s going to devise a dastardly scheme to steal your fingerprints so they can check into your gym, but if they could use said stolen prints to drain your bank account? Much more incentive there.
The exciting piece of tech used in this payment system is the aforementioned verification process. Rather than sliding a copied fingerprint up to the scanner — or even cutting off someone’s finger and using that — the device checks for a pulse. Sure, you can just put a gun up to someone’s head and force them to use their live, pulse-filled finger, but you can use that same threat to force someone to type their PIN into an ATM, or to simply give you everything in their wallet. Pulse-and-fingerprint detection seems like a safer system than one you can bypass by stealing someone’s credit card and then making a fake ID in case the cashier asks.
At the moment, the system is being tested in the Rapid City school, but those of us who hate having to stuff everything into a wallet that we then stuff into our pocket can’t wait for this payment system to hit stores near us.

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