Biometric authentication: how to confirm the payment without a password

Initially, fingerprint identification (also known as dactyloscopy) was used in forensic science to identify criminals

Biometric authentication: how to confirm the payment without a password. Source:

Fingerprint concepts originate from antiquity and the medieval period but the first mention of a fingerprint identification method occurred in Calcutta, India in the middle of the 19th century. PaySpace Magazine has made a list of biometric authentication methods that are applied in finance and banking, (mostly for payment confirmation).

1. Fingerprint identification

This is the most common biometric authentication method nowadays. Apple Pay is the most popular payment service that uses fingerprint authentication for payment confirmation. The service was launched in October 2014. All modern Apple smartphone models are endowed with a fingerprint recognition feature called Touch ID (iPhone 5S was the first Apple device with Touch ID). This sensor is built into a home button on the front side of a device housing. You just need to touch this sensor to confirm a transaction.

However, a fingerprint can serve not only as a password but also as a full-grade independent payment instrument. WorldPay launched “finger vein” payments in 2017 (it lets purchasers pay for groceries using just veins in their fingerprints). Customers at one of the London stores can now pay using their unique vein pattern to identify themselves). Fingerprint payments are being implemented by the special scanners called Fingopay.

2. Voice analysis

The voice recognition method is being promoted in bank call centers. This method provides a way to authenticate a customer’s identity without a codeword or additional details (middle name, password, ID number, driver license number, etc). The system matches the voice of the person on the telephone with the voice sample from the bank archives (which was recorded during account opening).

This method is widely used in multiple world banks – from Northern America to Hong Kong.

US Wells Fargo offered an attractive solution. One of the biggest US banks would test their voice recognition method as a way to login to the mobile banking app.

3. Face recognition

This authentication method can be implemented online as well as in bricks-and-mortar shops. Finnish startup Uniqul offered such a system as early as 2013. This system scans the customer’s face, matches it with the sample from their database, and if successful, provides payment details to pay for purchases. A customer doesn’t even have to use a bank card or paper money to pay for their goods.

Researchers from Chinese Tsinghua University and Tzekwan Technology have already launched the world’s first facial recognition ATM. Mastercard, for instance, has launched selfie payments (Identity Check Mobile technology) across Europe and Northern America.

4. Iris scan

In 2015, Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo and handset maker Fujitsu launched a smartphone that authenticates users for mobile payments by scanning their irises.

British rail firm Chiltern Railways plans to use eye scans to charge passengers.

5. Heartbeat

Heart rate is the speed of the heartbeat. Cardiac rhythm is unique (like a fingerprint). Some of the newest wearable wristbands are endowed with special electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors that recognize the cardiac rhythm of the user.

Canadian company Bionym developed the Nymi wearable wristband with electrocardiogram sensor in 2013. The firm in partnership with MasterCard and the Royal Bank of Canada is planning to launch a pilot of its biometric payment system. The experiment will use a Nymi wristband linked to a MasterCard credit card for payments. An NFC chip inside the wristband will make it possible to communicate wirelessly with payment terminals, while the ECG sensor will authenticate the wearer’s identity.


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