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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : April 21, 2015

PayPal wants users to eat their (pass)words

Fingerprint recognition, heart rate monitoring and vein pattern scanning could be the future of passwords, lowering the risk of fraud and simplifying usability. PayPal is toying with the idea of upping its biometric security game with ingestible passwords.

by Helen Leggatt

Typing in, and having to remember, passwords could soon become a thing of the past. Fingerprint recognition and other biometric identification methods are already available, but Jonathan Leblanc, PayPal's Global Head of Developer Evangelism, believes one way to "Kill All Passwords" is to make them ingestible, embeddable or even injectable.

One of the reasons behind PayPal's interest in developing new password methods is users' choice of weak passwords. The top 4 passwords in 2014 were '123456', 'password', '12345678' and 'qwerty'.

PayPal is looking at ways of implementing 'natural body identification' techniques such as swallowing capsules that then reside in the stomach, powered by digestive acids, that detect unique bodily features such as glucose levels and heartbeat. Data from the capsules could be encrypted and communicated to external receivers.

Other ideas include vein recognition, embedded brain chips and skin grafts.

"I can't speculate as to what PayPal will do in the future," Leblanc told the Wall Street Journal, "but we're looking at new techniques - we do have fingerprint scanning that is being worked on right now - so we're definitely looking at the identity field."

A recent survey of 2,090 UK adults conducted by YouGov on behalf of credit reference agency Equifax found that nearly as many consumers would prefer fingerprint recognition (31%) to gain access to online banking as would prefer passwords (32%). Two banks in the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, have already implemented fingerprint recognition technology for logins due to customer demand for the service.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: biometric, fraud, online security, password management, trends

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