Biometric verification has been around for decades, with one of the oldest examples being fingerprint analysis. Forensic investigators have long used these unique fingerprint patterns to catch criminals. Plus, depending on your mobile device, you probably have some type of touch ID verification that leverages the same technology.
Facial recognition, voice verification and iris scanning have also graduated from criminology to the mass market.
Yet, all of these biometric tools suffer from serious implications.
- After copying someone’s fingerprint from a soda can, you now have the keys to unlock that person’s phone.
- Prosthetic noses and makeup can fool certain facial scanners.
- With the right software, you can even mimic another person’s voice.
In addition, some biometric identifiers aren’t as “unique” as previously believed . Following the 2004 train bombing in Madrid, for example, FBI authorities positively identified a suspect using fingerprints from the scene.
But that suspect was a lawyer in Oregon who had never once visited Spain.
However, a new pilot project in the U.K. could make biometric verification more accurate and less hackable.
Using Finger Vein Technology to Verify Authenticity
Fingopay is a new verification method that uses infrared scanning to detect the unique vein patterns just below the finger’s surface.
Launched as a pilot project at Brunel University’s Costcutter grocery store in the U.K., this new verification technology is allegedly “un-hackable.”
For starters, the person must be alive for the verification process to go through. The technology checks for a pulse and hemoglobin — before analyzing the unique vein patterns. This means you can’t lift another person’s “fingerprints.” You can’t even cut off his or her fingers.
The backers behind Fingopay hope that this technology will eventually eliminate the need to:
- Carry wallets
- Remember PINs
- Scan devices
When you’re at the checkout counter, all you have to do is hold your finger against a reader. The scanner determines that you are who you say you are. What’s more, the transaction amount is automatically deducted from your linked bank account.
As a result, customers benefit from:
- Shorter lines
- Faster checkouts
- Safer shopping
The question is — will this technology ever go mainstream?
The Future of Biometric Vein Verification
From a strictly technological standpoint, the pilot project already works. Yet, whether Fingopay and other vein verification startups succeed remains to be seen. There are a range of moral, social and privacy concerns that need to be addressed first, including:
- Who owns all of this data?
- Can it be subpoenaed?
- Can it be used for other purposes?
The technology also opens a host of security worries.
Whereas card numbers, mobile devices and PINs can all be upgraded following a hack, some information can never be changed.
For example, Social Security numbers stay the same for life — as many Americans discovered following the 2017 Equifax breach.
The same is true of the unique vein patterns under your fingers. Once that information is out there, it’s out there. There isn’t anything you can do to prevent others from using your personal, biological markers.
Thus, resistance to this new verification technology is to be expected.
Though with faster lines, more sales and higher profits, retailers will have plenty of incentive to make the switch. Vein verification could become the new payment standard — whether consumers want it or not.