Finger vein authentication -- On July 24, Hitachi announced the development of a biometric cardless credit payment system, called "finger vein money," which allows shoppers to pay for purchases using only their fingertips. The company plans to begin field testing the finger vein money in September.

Finger vein money relies on Hitachi's finger vein authentication technology, which verifies a person's identity by reading the pattern of blood vessels in his or her fingers. These blood vessel patterns are unique to each individual, much like fingerprints or retinas, only they are hidden securely under the skin, making them all the more difficult to counterfeit. Hitachi's finger vein authentication technology is already being used to verify user identities for ATMs, door access control systems and computer log-in systems in Japan and elsewhere.

In the finger vein money system, consumers first register their finger vein pattern data with the credit card company. The data is then entered into a database along with the individual's credit account information. Later, when shoppers want to pay for something, they simply go to the cash register and place their finger in a vein reader, which uses infrared LEDs and a special camera to capture a detailed image of their vein structure. The image is converted into a readable format and sent to the database, where it is checked against the records on file. When the system verifies the identity of the shopper, the purchase is charged to the individual's credit account.

Hitachi's three-month field test, which is set to begin in September, involves 200 Hitachi employees volunteering to use finger vein money at the company cafeteria and shops in the Hitachi System Plaza Building located in Shin-Kawasaki. If all goes well, Hitachi -- who is conducting the test with the cooperation of major credit card company JCB -- plans to expand the trial system to all of its company buildings.

As a cardless payment system that promises the ultimate in convenience and security, finger vein money could help contribute to the disappearance of credit cards and all the anxieties associated with their loss and theft. When that day comes, we may only need to worry about losing our fingers.

[Source: Nikkei Net]