TOKYO -- 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.
Unlike existing fingerprint- and face-based payment methods, which serve in place of passwords, JCB's system would also eliminate the need for cards and other forms of identification. Advances in the accuracy of biometric identification enable the technology.
Japan-based JCB will launch in February a trial run of the technology for a limited group including company employees. Through the test, it hopes to quickly expose potential security problems, such as fraudulent registrations or uses, and other hurdles in order to get on the speediest track to making the system a practical reality.
With the help of technology from Tokyo company Universal Robots, the program identifies registrants based on both the palm's surface and the distribution of veins underneath. At present, it reportedly misidentifies users only once in 100 billion times.
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.
Digital wallet services such as Apple Pay -- from iPhone juggernaut Apple of the U.S. -- and QR-code-based payment systems are spreading. Advances in so-called empty-hand payment, requiring neither phone nor wallet, could push Japan forward in the movement away from cash, in which it has trailed other countries.