Korea turns to biometrics to secure mobile finance

A South Korean government agency is developing a biometric authentication system, combining data from wearables and smartphones, to increase security in mobile financial applications. The Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) is working on a system which will use a combination of fingerprint and electrocardiogram (heart rate) information to verify the user. KISA head Jason Kim said its technology would be “much safer” than iris sensors, facial recognition and fingerprint scanners.

The proposed system will use a combination of data from a user’s smartwatch and fingerprint sensor on the handset to unlock secure applications. If successful the technology will be a world first, according to the agency, and will be the subject of a patent application.
It expects to release a prototype by the end of 2017 and complete the project by the end of 2018.

The development of the new authentication system in Korea comes as an increasing number of wireless application developers look to incorporate biometric authentication to improve security. Mobile payments authenticated through biometrics – including fingerprint scanners and selfies – are expected to triple worldwide during 2017 to reach 2 billion by the end of the year, according to UK analyst company Juniper Research. In its forecast, made in May, the company expected to see strong adoption of these technologies going forward but added it was important for vendors to combine security with end user convenience.