The ultimate in convenient banking: make payments by thinking


In my presentation at yesterday’s media launch of ANZ’s Banking on Australia program, I spoke about new ways of making payments using biometrics.

An article in today’s Australian Financial Review reports:

“Biometric security” involves using fingerprints, voice records or eye scans to access secure systems instead of number-based passwords, which are much easier to steal or hack.

Speaking at an ANZ event in Melbourne on Thursday, futurist Ross Dawson said the “post-cash world” was coming to advanced economies.

“It’s inevitable we move to biometrics, things that measure who we are to uniquely identify us to enable easy payments,” he said.

“The US Department of Energy, for example, is using our thought waves to identify people. To think of something is obviously a great way to be able to pay for things.”

Here is an excerpt from the US Department Energy’s work on Brainwaves as a Biometric Parameter for Unique Identification and Authentication, including a patent application:

Researchers at ORNL have developed a novel method of identifying and authenticating individuals, which offers improvement over current methods through increased performance, robustness, and reliability, while preventing circumvention of the system. The method uses brain wave data uniquely formed from an individual’s thought process. The brain waves are sampled using EEG equipment and processed using phase-space distribution functions to compare digital signature data from the enrollment of authorized individuals. The developed method provides authentication (verification that test and enrollment biometric data are confirmed to be the same) and identification (determination that enrollment and test biometric data match to identify an individual among others).

The technology could be utilized for organizations requiring very high assurance of a person’s identity including federal/state/local government and financial institutions.

Other work in the field includes Two-Stage Biometric Authentication Method Using Thought Activity Brain Waves and Biometric Authentication Using Brain Responses To Visual Stimuli.

Some of the earlier research required a cap to be placed on the subject’s brain, which is hardly convenient, but recently brain patterns can be picked up far more non-intrusively.

These technologies would be used for simple authorization of payments rather than anything more complex. The transaction would be put in the system, for example in a store, and the customer would simply have to think ‘Yes’ to authorize the payment.

The ultimate in easy, secure payments. Let’s see if we can get there.