PayPal executive discusses future of identification technologies

April 20, 2015 - 

In a presentation titled “Kill all Passwords”, PayPal’s head of developer evangelism, Jonathan Leblanc, discusses cutting-edge technologies in development to authorize transactions and other sensitive online interactions, according to a blog post by The Wall Street Journal.

Leblanc’s presentation, which he is delivering at various tech conferences, argues that identification verification technology has shifted toward “true integration with the human body.”

The use of injectable and ingestible devices, such as brain implants and attachable computers, will allow “natural body identification” to “put users in charge of their own security,” Leblanc said.

Additionally, ingestible devices can be powered by stomach acid, which will operate the devices’ batteries, he added.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Leblanc said that passwords were broken, and that it was time to replace the concepts and methods of username and password verification.

“If there’s a weak password you need to harden that with something physical behind it,” Leblanc told The Wall Street Journal.

Leblanc said that behavioral biometrics authentication methods that identify people based on their habits can lead to false negative results, preventing valid users from logging in to their online services, or allowing invalid users to successfully log in.

He highlighted other identity verification technologies, such as thin silicon chips which can be embedded into the skin, as being more accurate.

The wireless chips feature ECG sensors that measure the heart’s unique electrical activity, then transmits the data via wireless antennae to “wearable computer tattoos.”

Additionally, Leblanc discussed the development of ingestible capsules which detect glucose levels and other internal features to identify an individual and transmit the encrypted data to the system.

Leblanc also unveiled that PayPal was working with partners who are developing vein recognition technologies and heartbeat recognition bands, as well as developers who are building prototypes of futuristic ID verification techniques.

He emphasized that by working with these technology developers, PayPal is not necessarily considering adopting the technology, but instead, the company is positioning itself as a thought leader.

“I can’t speculate as to what PayPal will do in the future, 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,” Leblanc said.

He also pointed out that cultural norms still are have a ways to go before it catches up with ingestible and injectable ID devices.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.