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Scanning your palm to pay could be a reality in Singapore one day

By Cheryl Tan - on 26 Feb 2024, 7:32pm

Scanning your palm to pay could be a reality in Singapore soon

Pay-by-palm terminal at Visa's Singapore Innovation Centre.

Remember when we were amazed by the ability to scan your face and make payments? That story was from 2015 and while facial payments isn't yet readily available in Singapore, we might be seeing the evolution via palm payments in the near future. 

Pay-by-palm terminal at Visa's Singapore Innovation Centre.

At the grand re-opening of Visa's Singapore Innovation Centre, we were able to tour the space that Visa uses to allow corporate clients to interact with Visa technologists to inspire solutions for the digital payments space. While most of the exhibits were very B2B focused, the pay-by-palm terminal caught our eye.

While biometrics payments are quite common in other countries like China, where facial recognition payments have been present for at least five years, it's been slow to roll out here in Singapore with only a handful of unmanned convenience stores and the likes using facial recognition payments. 

Source: Amazon.

Despite that, it's clear that biometrics payments is the way forward, both for convenience and security. Amazon is a major player that has added the company's palm recognition payment technology to more than 500 Whole Foods stores in the United States, with Tencent allowing for palm recognition payment on WeChat Pay so that commuters can scan their palms to pay for commutes on the Daxing Airport Express Line in Beijing. 

Kunal Chatterjee, Head of Innovation at Visa Asia Pacific, stated: "The future of biometric payments is promising and is set to revolutionize the retail experience. Biometrics has the potential to enable retailers to offer a more personalized and secure shopping experience. It simplifies the checkout process by using fingerprint and facial recognition, thereby reducing wait times, and eliminating the need for traditional payment methods. This not only enhances the customer experience but also increases efficiency. Furthermore, biometrics enhance security by ensuring only authorized personnel can access sensitive information."

Note the vein pattern at the bottom left of the screen.

Palm recognition payments is also said to be more secure than a facial scan, as it's more accurate than facial scans or fingerprints due to the data not being affected by one's skin surface or underlying structure, which can change due to age or injury. Palm scanning works by shining infrared light at the palm to produce a vein pattern, which is hard to replicate or forge.

The technology is still relatively nascent, however, and we most likely won't see it being mass market for a while. Mr Chatterjee noted that predicting timelines for biometric payment acceptance "is challenging due to various factors such as technological advancements, regulatory approval, and consumer acceptance, which can vary from market to market. However, the current pace of integration and acceptance of new technologies that we are seeing is very encouraging, and we expect to see biometric payments becoming more mainstream within the next decade."

With facial recognition payments are starting to be implemented in certain sectors in Singapore, we're definitely hopeful palm recognition payments will come to pass for even more secure biometrics-based access and payments.

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