Mobile

Will Your Next Payments Password Be Embedded, Injected Or Ingested?

The next wave in biometric ID for mobile payments will be devices that can be embedded, injected and ingested, according to a PayPal executive who’s working with developers who are working on the problem.

PayPal is currently working with partners to develop vein recognition tech and heartbeat recognition bands, the company’s global head of developer evangelism Jonathan Leblanc told The Wall Street Journal. But he added that PayPal is also working with developers who are building prototypes of futuristic ID verification techniques.

Passwords are broken, and authentication will shift from external identifiers like fingerprints to internal body functions like heartbeat and vein recognition, but after that embedded and ingestible devices will allow “natural body identification,” Leblanc said.

Ingestible capsules could detect glucose levels and other unique internal physical features, then send that data out in encrypted form to authenticate a user. The devices might use stomach acid to power their batteries, he added.

Thin silicon chips containing EKG sensors could be embedded under a user’s skin to constantly monitor the heart’s electrical signature, then communicate the data to wearable-computer tattoos. Other attachable computers could include brain implants that would “put users in charge of their own security,” Leblanc said, adding that authentication is moving toward true integration with the human body.

Leblanc has been making the rounds of tech conferences in the U.S. and Europe, giving a presentation called “Kill All Passwords.” While some of the ideas sound a little wild — “I ground a lot of my talks in reality, but toward the end of the presentation things get a little strange,” he told The Journal — Leblanc said behind every idea or product he talks about, there’s a company working on that problem.

He also said that just because he talks about a new biometric verification technology doesn’t mean PayPal is signaling that it’s thinking about adopting it. His company is instead positioning itself as a thought leader, Leblanc said.

Still, biometric identification is clearly where authentication is headed, at least if software developers themselves are any guide. According to Juniper Research, nearly 770 million biometric authentication apps will be downloaded per year by 2019, more than 100 times the current 6 million per year.

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