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Microchips implanted in hands could be in use for payments in 20 years

UK consumers are becoming more accepting that biometric authentication will become the norm for payments

Around a quarter of British consumers expect to be able to pay for items in shops using a chip embedded in their hand by 2037.

Research from Nationwide Payments revealed that 23% of respondents believe this will be the main method of biometric payment, while 58% think it will be thumbprints.

However, Nationwide’s survey of 2,000 people found that people expect a mix of old and new. More than half said debit cards (56%) and credit cards (53%) will still be used by 2037, while 43% think cash will still be relevant, and 55% believe phones or watches will still be used to pay in 2037.

Paul Horlock, director of payments at Nationwide, said the building society is developing biometric payment systems. “New innovations, such as biometric identification, are also in the pipeline as we look to the future.”

The advancement and acceptance of biometric authentication technology could even remove the need to have a physical chip at all.

Futurologist Ian Pearson, the inventor of text messaging, said contactless technology is a compromise, and people will soon pay for things with a simple gesture and a few words.

“Gesturing towards someone and saying ‘Here is £13.46’ is quite enough to combine the voice and gesture recognition with the presence of your smartphone as electronic identification,” he said.

Biometric authentication is becoming increasingly seen as secure and organisations are testing it in highly sensitive areas such as financial services.

Perhaps even more sensitive than financial transactions is border control. In Dubai, the government is already working with a startup company to introduce biometric border checks that could end the need for physical passports. Arriving passengers will enter a short tunnel when leaving the aircraft and a full identity check will be made.

While in the tunnel, a 3D scan of their faces will take place and they will be instantly checked into the country. Lidar technology will enable the system to recognise passengers quickly without them even needing to stop walking.


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