NFC phones to get biometric security support

NXP, AuthenTec and DeviceFidelity have announced they are developing reference designs for Android NFC phones that will ensure a mobile payment can only be made after the user has proved their identity by swiping their finger across a biometric sensor built into the handset.

Motorola Atrix fingerprint sensor
BIOMETRICS: Motorola’s Atrix 4G sports a fingerprint sensor on its top edge

Chip maker NXP, biometrics hardware vendor AuthenTec and NFC specialist DeviceFidelity have announced they are working together to enable payments made with mobile phones to be secured via both fingerprint biometrics and NFC technology.

The companies have carried out a test of their technology, the first of its type to be conducted in the US, using a Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone equipped with AuthenTec’s AES1750 smart fingerprint sensor and DeviceFidelity’s In2Pay microSD card containing NXP’s secure NFC solution.

In the test, the demonstrator swiped a finger over the smartphone’s fingerprint sensor to authenticate himself as the pre-enrolled account owner and to launch a credit card app. Following authentication, the demonstrator simply tapped the Atrix smartphone against a payment terminal to complete the first fingerprint-enabled secure NFC transaction in the US.

The companies now plan to collaborate further on additional, similar NFC-based reference designs to enable phone manufacturers to build the technology into Android NFC phones. “Field upgradeable solutions and integrated reference designs will provide a variety of options to mobile phone OEMs for fielding mobile commerce transaction-ready platforms,” the partners say.

“The payment experience demonstrated by NXP, DeviceFidelity and AuthenTec provides the convenience, speed, and security consumers require for broad adoption of mobile wallets,” says NXP’s Henri Ardevol. “The fingerprint transaction shows how future mobile transactions may become increasingly convenient through the use of NFC and biometrics.”

“Security is often cited as the biggest impediment to the broad adoption of mobile wallets, and we believe our jointly-developed NFC reference designs will give consumers greater confidence that mobile wallets are not only an easier way to pay but are much more secure than other means,” added AuthenTec CEO Larry Ciaccia.

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One comment on this article

  1. Is there a dumber idea than fingperint security a phone? Unless they mandate the use of latext gloves when handling the phone, it’s like writing your PIN on the back.

    Latent fingerprints are ludicrously easy to lift from hard surfaces are replay against biometric scanners. Some biometrics proponents claim that liveness detection solves this problem, but in practice, they’re wrong. Even sophisticated liveness detection has been readily circumvented (see Mythbusters
    But I bet there is no liveness detection at all in a mobile phone.

    Fitting biometrics to mobile phones, in a marketplace that has shown scant regard for password security or decent cryptography in the madcap dash to release more and more apps, is a dangerous gimick.

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