Japanese Company Develops Mobile Payment System That Scans Your Palm Using Smartphone Camera

Following authentication processes like thumbprint scanning, facial recognition, and QR code entry, a company in Japan this week has shown off a smartphone-based payment system that uses your unique palm print to confirm transactions (via Nikkei). Japanese credit card company JCB created the system in conjunction with Tokyo company Universal Robots, with a trial run aimed at company employees beginning next month.

This isn't the first time palm scanning technology has been used for mobile payments, with U.S. companies Biyo and Keyo each launching their own versions of similar systems recently, although on a small scale. Those technologies require merchants to purchase special terminals that include palm-scanning cameras so that customers can pay with a hand wave at their stores, but JCB's system only needs a smartphone camera and requires no specialized equipment.

Image via Nikkei
Customers would be able to leave wallets and phones in their pockets with a palm-based payment system, developed by credit card company JCB, that merchants could use with just an everyday smartphone camera.

After users register by snapping a picture of their palm from a smartphone camera, merchants or stores could scan customers' palms by smartphone to match them against registered data. With no specialized equipment needed, it would be easier for stores to incorporate the system, unlike a previous dalliance by JCB into palm-based payment that required a special terminal.
JCB's system works by identifying registrants' hands based on the surface of their palms and the "distribution of veins underneath." Users register by taking a picture of their palm from an app on their smartphone and associating it with any supported payment information. Then, when at an appropriate store the merchant can scan the customer's palm using a smartphone camera and the system will match the received data against registered data. This way, users wouldn't even need to take out their own smartphone during the payment process.

JCB hopes the technology not only evolves into a widely used payment system, but also potentially "eliminates the need for cards and other forms of identification." The employee test is being enacted with the goal of exposing any security problems with the system, "such as fraudulent registrations or uses," as well as ensuring accuracy of the system. It's said to misidentify users "only once in 100 billion times."

While palm scanning technology hasn't been widely adopted, thumbprint and face scanning have become normal interactions for users around the world when paying for items with their smartphones, particularly on iOS devices. Apple's Apple Pay began with Touch ID on iPhone 5s in 2013 and eventually came to MacBook Pro in 2016. With the launch of the iPhone X users are now paying for products with Face ID, which quickly scans their faces to confirm identity and then authenticates the purchase after being tapped to a compatible NFC terminal. Touch ID and Face ID can also both be used within apps.

Tag: Japan


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7 weeks ago
Forget it. I’m not having some merchant scan my palm or any other part of my body. I have no problem using my fingerprint or face on my own device, but no way my local Staples is going to start scanning me at the checkout line. Nor do I relish the idea of various merchants storing my biometric data.
Rating: 14 Votes
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7 weeks ago
I don't understand how palm scanning improves upon the experience over Touch ID or Face ID. Taking a picture of my palm seems a little less convenient actually.
Rating: 12 Votes
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7 weeks ago
defeated by a picture in 3, 2, 1...
Rating: 9 Votes
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7 weeks ago
Honestly, with regards to Apple Pay or other payments, I don't really see how TouchID can be improved upon. My phone is in the same orientation in the same pocket at all times. I can pull my phone out of my pocket and have my thumb on the home button in the one movement, and then press it up to the terminal even if that's over the other side of the counter for whatever reason. FaceID is great for just picking up the phone and using it, but for payments, TouchID every time.
Rating: 7 Votes
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7 weeks ago
This technology seems about 5 years too late. Apple Pay is pretty ubiquitous in Japan already and I can't see retailers changing their Apple Pay terminals for this setup.

Also I can't see how giving out a scan of my hand print to a 3rd party terminal could ever possibly be considered as secure as authenticating my own personal device with my finger/face.
Rating: 5 Votes
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7 weeks ago

Forget it. I’m not having some merchant scan my palm or any other part of my body.

"To confirm this purchase, lick here."
Rating: 5 Votes
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7 weeks ago
Do we need ANOTHER payment method?
Rating: 5 Votes
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7 weeks ago
Well... that’s... creepy
Rating: 5 Votes
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7 weeks ago
No thanks. I’ll just use my NFC-equipped credit card.
Rating: 5 Votes
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7 weeks ago

They wear those masks indoors, too? Whoa! I'm just getting over a long sinus and lung infection and have to wear one of those masks in public to avoid coughing on people or catching another infection. It's really uncomfortable and it did make things challenging with my X while I had it. I'm back on Touch ID and really appreciating it, though Face ID was good, too.

I can't imagine wearing one of those masks all the time. Is the air really that bad there? I was in Tokyo a couple of times on a stopover and I do remember in the summer the air felt thick enough to eat. At the time nobody was wearing masks, though. Is the thick feel to the air from smog?

Sorry for the off topic but I'm really curious because I have seen news clips and pictures of people covered in masks and wondered about it.

Getting back on topic, I wouldn't want such a personal biometric information stored on a public system, either.


Smog isn't really a problem in Tokyo unless a toxic cloud wanders over from China which is pretty rare. The thickness you felt was probably just the humidity, it gets crazy hot and very high humidity in the summer and can be pretty brutal.

People wearing masks aren't super common IMO except around hay fever season or cold season. People will wear them all day though, especially if they have a cold or want to avoid one. Most Japanese offices are open floor plan so it's easy to pass a cold around to most people in an office that time of year
Rating: 2 Votes
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