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Alternative digital payment methods explored in Asia; tattoos and palm biometrics

Alternative digital payment methods explored in Asia; tattoos and palm biometrics
 

Alternative digital payment methods, biometric and otherwise, are being explored in Asia which are sure to invite some controversy.

An unnamed Taiwanese man had a barcode tattooed on his arm to execute payments without having to use its smartphone or bank cards.

The payment app barcode tattoo enables him to complete purchases at convenience stores and other outlets. Clips of the functional, if unorthodox, method are available on the Taiwanese social media platform DCard where the tattooed is seen paying for goods at a convenience store and petrol, with a scan of his arm.

Writing in a post on DCard, the tattooed man said it was important to find a good artist, as a barcode with different thicknesses or gaps would have resulted in incorrect values, making the code useless.

In the social media posts that followed, the man did not clarify what payment platform or bank card was associated with the bar code.

Tencent expands palm biometrics payments

Meanwhile, tech giant Tencent is exploring the possibility of expanding palm biometrics payments in China via its mega-app WeChat, reports MIT Technology Review. Tencent added a “Palm Payment” applet to WeChat in October.

The news comes from a video posted on Douyin, the original China version of TikTok, in September, where a WeChat employee was seen asking individuals to register their palm biometrics using a scanner in exchange for a special soda deal.

Further investigation suggested the feature was piloted early this year and recently launched in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Talking to MIT, Tencent added that a lack of training data had slowed the progress of the biometric solution so far (hence the soda deal) but that mass commercial application is close to becoming a reality. The company has also trademarked several names for the service.

The company explained the technology will reduce fraud attempts and increase security, but ethical and privacy concerns connected to Chinese surveillance remain.

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