Cash Register Scans Your Blood For Payment
The PulseWallet knows you by the unique pattern of your veins.
The PulseWallet knows you by the unique pattern of your veins.
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from security researcher Brian Krebs said that 40 million people who shopped at Target stores in the three days following Thanksgiving this year may have had their information stolen. According to Krebs, "The type of data stolen -- also known as “track data” -- allows crooks to create counterfeit cards by encoding the information onto any card with a magnetic stripe."
He also said that if the hackers intercepted PIN data for transactions, they could reproduce stolen debit cards and use them to withdraw cash from ATMs. In the meantime, the data breach is being investigated by the Secret Service. But that doesn't help the millions of people who have been the victims of fraud. It begs the question, how much longer do we have to put up with credit card number theft?
Thankfully, researchers are coming up with many new ways to pay for products and services that, in the future, won't require a credit card. Here are just a few.5 Ways To Shop Safely This Holiday
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have come up with PayTango, a new payment system that uses a fingerprint scanner to identify shoppers and provide them with one easy way to check out. If Target stores had this technology, the customer could press their finger on the payment pad instead of entering a PIN. Since a fingerprint cannot be duplicated, only the credit card owner would be authorized. It takes 20 seconds to sign up with PayTango, and is a good way to consolidate your bank, ID and gift cards into a one thing you'll never leave the house with: your finger.
You also never the leave the house without your face. This technology from Uniqual scans unique features of your face to identify you and authorize a payment from an account you've created. To make your purchase, just smile at the camera.
The Ring Theory, Kickstarter
Researchers at MIT wanted to use off-the-shelf technology to develop a creative method for making a payment. They developed the Sesame Ring, which give commuters access to the subway in Boston. The ring was 3-D printed and embedded with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip compatible with the city’s MBTA CharlieCard, a rechargeable fare card. To catch a ride, just tap and go.
YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
As part of campaign by Russia's 2014 Olympic Committee to "add elements of sport into daily life," vending machines installed in Moscow subways give away a free ticket to anyone who can do 30 squats. Here, Olympic champion gymnast Yelena Zamolodchikova gets a ticket, no problem.
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The ability to pay by phone is extremely popular throughout Asia and Africa, where tap-and-go technology allows people in Tokyo, for example, to touch a phone to an NFC wireless pad and instantly make a purchase. In Africa, people routinely make payments via text message. In the United States, paying with a phone is slowly gaining ground with apps that work on both iPhone and Android smartphones. The phones need to be equipped with the wireless NFC chip and only work at cash registers equipped with a compatible NFC pad.
An Apple patent granted in 2011 details an “ad-hoc cash-dispensing network that allows users to efficiently exchange cash.” The idea is that a cash-strapped you would summon your app, which would use the location service on your phone to locate others in the area willing to part with a few bucks for a fee. Once you rendezvous, the transaction can be made. The human ATM would get reimbursed through an online account that both of you have signed into.
The Coin card combines all of your swipe-able cards (credit cards, debit cards, gift cards) into one handy place. A card-swipe dongle ships with the device and you must download an app to combine all of your cards onto the Coin. But once all of the information is stored on Coin all you need to do is tap a button on the card, toggle through your payment choice and select the appropriate method. Credit or debit?
Lately, how you pay is almost as important as what you pay with. The distributed peer-to-peer digital currency bitcoin functions without the intermediation of any government or central authority. One can purchase bitcoins using U.S. dollars and hold onto them as they gain value. Bitcoin payment processing fees are lower than those of credit cards and so there are incentives to spend them. In this photo, a man buys bitcoins from the world's first bitcoin ATM, owned by the company Bitcoiniacs, which went live inside a downtown Vancouver coffee shop.
One day soon you could be paying for a stick of gum with your blood. A new mobile credit card payment tech knows exactly who you are and automatically withdraws your money by scanning your veins.
The PulseWallet, shown at the International CES in Las Vegas this week, is essentially a high-tech cash register. Intended as a point-of-sale terminal, it contains biometric technology developed by Fujitsu. Users register a credit card with PulseWallet and then put their hand on the device. Sensors inside the photograph the unique vein pattern in the palm of a user's hand and connect that pattern to the card, according to a press release.
The idea is you'd just put your hand over the device for a few seconds when you want to buy something, and that would get automatically charge the credit card on file. Users can also track all their purchases on their mobile devices.
The Verge's Ellis Hamburger tried the PulseWallet recently. “Now my veins are in the system," he says in a video demo. “I'll be able to check out with just my hand." He makes it sound so futuristic and convenient.
But we live in an age of massive hacks on corporations, stolen identities and wholesale electronic theft. I'm not sure how much I'd trust businesses to keep my vein signature safe even if the company says forgery is virtually impossible. A gym I went to once offered a choice between showing my driver's license or doing a thumbprint scan to check in. I chose to show my license, even if it took longer. Seemed less risky.
To be fair, PulseWallet appears to have some advantages. One would be hygiene because users won't need to press on anything. Another is security. The company says its device can only recognize the pattern if the blood is actively flowing within an individual's veins. Given that, I could see such a device being somewhat reassuring to consumers making big purchases.
It still begs so many questions. What if you injure yourself enough to mess up the scan? Or have a prosthetic hand? Or a disability that makes it hard to lift your arms? Plus, given how much trouble there is getting grocery store self-checkout scanners to read barcodes, I picture a lot of hand waving.
The PulseWallet comes out next month and will be free for consumers to use although the price for businesses to purchase them hasn't been released yet, Hamburger reported. I'm still not convinced that the check-out convenience will be worth it. My veins are my business.