Just a few years ago, I remember virtually always having cash. Whenever I ran low, I hit the ATM for a top-up.
But consumer culture has changed rapidly.
A society once dominated by cash and (heaven forbid!) checks has now become a largely cashless society, where most folks use credit and debit cards, or their smartphones to pay for goods through innovations like Google Wallet.
Indeed, I now only carry a few bucks with me at any given time these days.
The shift to cards and smartphones has certainly made the payment process easier.
But what about safety?
Like cash, cards and phones can be stolen and hacked.
So what kind of technology gives you ease of use, plus safety and security?
How about… yourself!
Biometrics Beginning to Proliferate
As you may know, biometrics is a rapidly growing technology field.
We’ve broken news on some of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years – including, of course, the implementation of the fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.
But biometrics is also branching out in the world of commerce. A year ago, for example, I reported on a PayPal trial in London, where customers were able to pay for goods in stores using facial recognition technology.
Today, another biometric form of payment is in the mix.
Show Me Your Hands!
In Sweden, startup tech firm, Quixter, has created a payment system where you need nothing more than your hand to pay for goods.
Specifically, the device reads the vein patterns to verify a person’s identity.
Like fingerprints, veins are unique to each individual and offer another secure way to pay.
The idea comes from Fredrik Leifland, an engineering graduate at Lund University near Malmö. The university was ranked 67th out of 100 in the QS World University Rankings in 2013, and boasts a strong history of innovation.
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Quoted on Humans Invent, Leifland says, “I got the idea when I was in line at the supermarket, and I saw how complex and inconvenient the paying process is. It takes a lot of time, so I thought there must be an easier and quicker way to pay. And that was the start of Quixter.”
Indeed, his hand-payment method takes a mere five seconds. After registering at a Quixter terminal with their social security number and phone number, when paying for goods, customers enter the last four digits of their phone number to confirm the amount, and then simply hold their hand above the sensor. The system is linked to the user’s bank account, and the payment is subtracted automatically.
A World Where You Always Have “Cash”
Leifland says the most challenging aspect wasn’t the scanning technology, but the payment procedure: “We needed to take the technology and connect it to the financial sector, to bank accounts, and that’s been a long and hard process. Then we needed to find a way to make the package into a simple one.”
But it works. And the 2,000 people on the Lund campus are already using Quixter at various shops, bars and restaurants. It’s proving a popular alternative to traditional cash and cards, particularly when customers are low on cash and stores require a minimum charge for a card payment.
More importantly, it’s extremely safe, since it’s virtually impossible to extract and copy vein patterns from a person’s hand.
From here, Leifland plans to expand Quixter beyond the Lund University campus and into the wider world within the next five years. A world where everyone will always have “cash on hand.”
Ahead of the tape,