Swipe a thumb to pay for purchases

Singapore's e-payment infrastructure provider NETS, names a biometrics payment system devised by four Singapore Polytechnic students, as the winning invention in its NETS Innovator Series 2005 contest.

SINGAPORE--The next time a shopper pays for his goods in the country, he might be able to do so by simply swiping his thumb on the cash register or payment system.

The Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), which operates a nationwide infrastructure to enable payment via ATM cards, has been testing new technologies for cashless payments. In its latest initiative in this area, the company held a competition to encourage students to explore future electronic payment concepts.

Jointly organized with Mensa Singapore, the contest saw four participants from Singapore Polytechnic emerge as winners with their biometrics payment system.

The students' winning entry encompasses a three-step process. The user must first register an account with NETS and an authorised bank. Upon registration, the thumbprint of the user will be stored in the database, and he will be given a Personal Identification Number (PIN). He then taps his thumbprint on the NETS point-of-sales (POS) machine at the time of purchase, verify his PIN and the transaction will be approved.

Using biometrics ensures that faster, hassle-free and more secure transactions can be carried out, according to a media statement released by NETS. This form of payment also eliminates the need for consumers to carry different credit, or debit cards.

Said NETS CEO Poh Mui Hoon: "We value innovation and see a big future in the area of biometrics as part of our drive to create a cashless society."