Rise of Technology

A huge change in how we pay for goods has entered the UK with Selfie Pay, contactless payment rings and iris scanners.

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Selfie Pay

New technologies have been introduced at the Gherkin as part of London Tech Week which could potentially alter the way in which we purchase goods.

Selfie Pay is one of the apps that exercises everyone’s much-loved loved hobby and turns it into something beneficial by sanctioning you to authorise a transaction with your face.

To avoid people using a photo of you to deceitfully authorise a transaction, the app requires you to blink so it knows that you’re actually there.

The concept is thought to alleviate the need for passwords by using biometrics instead such as unique data which is built on individual characteristics like the face, eyes or fingerprints.

“If you think about passwords, they’re a standalone measure,” said Jane Khodos from MasterCard. “They’re easily lost, stolen or forgotten.

“Here you’re authenticating with what you have: your phone and also who you are.”

This kind of technology can be used to buy goods, pay for bus or train fares, or to log onto your computer.

Another new technological device was a wristband that can recognise you by the unique rhythm of your heart, that is found in your electrocardiogram (ECG).

Contactless payment rings
Contactless payment rings

The heart rhythm is not the same as your heartbeat, so the band would still work even if you had been running.

“We’re also very concerned about the security issues, it’s something that’s top of the mind for us,” said Amy Neal from MasterCard Labs, the company’s research and development division.

It is not merely biometrics that could alter the way we pay.

Kerv has been said to be the world’s primary contactless payment ring: a simple piece of technology that fundamentally means you are wearing a contactless payment card.

Payment tech inventors emphasise that there it is not essential to select only one of these products.

“You can start to bundle biometric authentication together,” says Ms Neal. “So you might have Selfie Pay, but also the electrocardiagram for additional security.

“We hear stories like people are concerned that they may have an identical twin, so what does that mean if you’re doing selfie pay?

“For us this is ensuring that we have a full suite of biometrics available.”

The Kerv ring is due out in July, Selfie Pay is releasing in the UK this year and the Nymi band and iris scanner are both still in progress.

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