Payment from the palm of your hand: Learn more about Chinese technology


China is widely recognized for its rapid technological advancement and innovation, especially in the field of digital payments. From the use of QR codes to the popularization of WeChat Pay and Alipay, China has led the way in transforming financial transactions. One of the latest technologies to gain prominence is palm payment. 

What is palm payment?

Palm payment is a biometric technology that allows users to carry out financial transactions using the unique print and patterns of the veins in the palm of the hand. 

This technology uses a scanner that captures the image of the veins in the hand, which are unique to each individual, similar to a fingerprint. This method not only provides a quick and convenient way to pay, but also offers a high level of security.

How does the technology work?

The palm payment system involves three main components:

  • Capture device: A hand scanner, usually equipped with infrared cameras, captures the image of the palm and veins of the user's hand.
  • Data processing: The captured image is converted into a digital pattern that is unique to each individual. This pattern is then encrypted and stored on a secure server.
  • Authentication and Payment: When the user wants to make a payment, they simply place their hand on the scanner. The system compares the vein pattern captured at the time with the stored pattern to verify the user's identity. Once authenticated, the payment is processed immediately.

Advantages of palm payment

  • Safety: The veins in the palm of the hand are internal and practically impossible to fake, making this method extremely safe. In addition, the need for minimal physical contact reduces the risk of contamination, something especially relevant in times of pandemic.
  • Convenience: No need for cards, cash or mobile devices. The user only needs their own hand, which simplifies and speeds up transactions.
  • Accuracy: Vein recognition technology is highly accurate, with an extremely low error rate. This ensures that only the legitimate owner of the palm can access the account and carry out transactions.
  • Accessibility: This technology can be especially useful for people who have difficulty handling mobile devices or desks, such as the elderly or people with disabilities.

Challenges and considerations

Although palm payment technology offers many benefits, there are some challenges and considerations to take into account:

  • Data Privacy and Security: The collection and storage of biometric data are sensitive issues. It is crucial that companies implementing this technology adopt strict measures to protect this data from leaks and unauthorized access.
  • Consumer Acceptance and Trust: As with any new technology, there can be a learning curve and initial resistance on the part of consumers. Educating the public about the safety and benefits of the technology is essential for its widespread adoption.
  • Infrastructure: Implementing this technology requires investments in hardware (scanners) and software (data processing and storage systems). This may represent an initial obstacle to its large-scale adoption.

Impact on society

The widespread adoption of palm payment could have a significant impact on various aspects of society:

  • Commerce and Services: Payment from the palm of your hand could transform the way we interact with commerce and services. From paying for a meal in a restaurant to shopping in a supermarket, the convenience and speed of transactions can improve the customer experience and increase business efficiency.
  • Financial Inclusion: This technology can facilitate access to financial services for people who are currently outside the traditional banking system. With simple biometric identification, more people can participate in the digital economy.
  • Fraud Reduction: The enhanced security provided by vein recognition can significantly reduce fraud and identity theft, resulting in greater confidence in the financial system.
  • Public Health: In a post-pandemic world, minimizing physical contact in financial transactions can be an important factor for public health, reducing the transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Use Cases in China

China is already experimenting with this technology in various contexts. Major technology companies such as Alibaba and Tencent are investing in biometric payment solutions. Some convenience stores and supermarkets in cities like Shenzhen and Beijing have already started testing palm payment.

In addition, the technology is being used in other sectors, such as public transportation and building access, where the need for fast and secure authentication is critical. For example, some offices and residential buildings have begun to adopt palm scanners as an alternative to traditional access cards.

The Future of Paying from the Palm of Your Hand

The future of palm payment looks promising, especially with the continued support of major technology players and growing public acceptance. However, the success of this technology will depend on how the challenges mentioned above are addressed.

Continued research and development into biometric data security, as well as the creation of clear regulations to protect users' privacy, will be key to ensuring consumer confidence. As the technology evolves, we could see its application expand beyond financial transactions, potentially transforming sectors such as health, education and security.

A significant step in the evolution of technologies

Payment from the palm of your hand represents a significant step in the evolution of digital payment technologies. With its promise of security, convenience and efficiency, this technology has the potential to transform the way we carry out everyday transactions. 

Although there are still challenges to overcome, continued progress and growing adoption indicate that we are heading towards a future where paying with the palm of your hand could become common practice. China, with its innovative and adaptive stance, is once again leading this technological revolution, offering a glimpse of what the future of digital payments will look like.

See also: How can technology help education?

June 20th, 2024