Discover Testing Payment by Fingerprint

CHICAGO -- Employees of Discover Financial Services Inc. will soon be the first to test the company's new fingerprint payment system at its Riverwoods, Ill., headquarters, the Chicago Tribune reported. They will be able to pay by hand at the headquarters’ cafeteria and convenience stores.

Participating employees must first register at an on-site kiosk that reads an index fingerprint and assigns it a number. They will then receive a key fob containing a chip with information on their individual credit card account, plus the fingerprint, according to the report. To complete a purchase, they must place their finger on a fingerprint reader at checkout with the key fob in a nearby place, such as a purse or pocket. This should provide extra security while saving time that would be spent fumbling with credit cards or cash, the company said.

French biometrics firm Natural Security is working with Discover on the pilot program, which is scheduled to launch within the next three months. Discover employees have previously tested other new technologies, such as contactless payments where credit cards are tapped. Three hundred to 350 employees will participate in the new fingerprint payment test.

Discover is working on several payment technologies for both the short- and long-term, Troy Bernard, Discover's global head of emerging payments, told the Chicago Tribune. "Biometrics falls into long-term solutions," Bernard stated.

As far as the barriers to acceptance of fingerprint payment, Bernard acknowledged potential concerns about the use of biometrics and the entry barrier of requiring users to register first.

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