Fingerprints Could Pay for Everything in Japan
The problem is that using fingerprints alone introduces security risks.
The Japanese government is on a mission to have systems in place by 2020 - for the Tokyo Olympics - that would allow tourists to pay for goods and services using a fingerprint, reports the Japan News.
Testing will begin this summer. Tourists will register their fingerprints along with passport and credit card information upon entering the country.
People will then be able to pay for items in at least 300 shops and hotels that are currently participating. More will be added as the system expands.
Along the way, an organization will convert the information collected to anonymous data that will be analyzed to see how and where tourists spend their money; this information will be used to manage the tourism industry.
Asking a tourist to register a fingerprint is nothing new. Japan already does that and so do we here in the United States. But tying it to payment system is entirely new.
The Japanese government says that a biometric payment system such as this will make traveling and shopping much easier and more secure than using cash or credit cards.
But as FastCoExist points out, even though fingerprints are unique to individuals, they are not the most secure method for identifying people.
"Biometrics are easy to steal," security writer Bruce Schneier told FastCoExist. "You leave your fingerprints everywhere you touch, your iris scan everywhere you look. Regularly, hackers have copied the prints of officials from objects they've touched, and posted them on the Internet."
Using fingerprints to authenticate sensitive data is best when it's combined with a second level of security, such as a password.
"Passwords can be changed, but if someone copies your thumbprint, you're out of luck," Schneier said.