Japan-based technology giant Hitachi and telecommunication firm KDDI has announced a blockchain-based system that could make secure retail payments using the fingerprints of shoppers.
The technology, which is still in testing and development, is being deployed at a KDDI store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, as well as a local doughnut shop.
If successful, the innovation could transform the way cryptocurrency is used to pay for goods and services in real-world environments.
How Hitachi and KDDI’s payment system works
The blockchain-based payment method, which uses technology from the Hyperledger Fabric platform, is integrated with Hitachi’s biometric verification and KDDI’s existing coupon system.
When shoppers sign up to the system, they will register their biometric information and coupon credits. These are then encoded into a string of encrypted data and stored on the blockchain.
Upon purchasing a product, shoppers will verify their identity using a fingerprint reading device, which broadcasts the request over a distributed network to settle the transaction.
“As a result, users can authenticate themselves by holding the finger on the authentication infrastructure, so it is not necessary to present a coupon at the store, and the coupon can be used even without a smartphone,” the company said in the release.
“Hitachi’s proprietary technology, which operates on blockchain, enables automatic generation of electronic signature…with low risk of theft and leakage as a secret key.”
Hitachi wants to establish a tamper-proof blockchain to not only verify the fingerprints of shoppers, but also keep their coupon usage information accurate and updated across every participating store simultaneously.
Hitachi also revealed that it is eager to work alongside KDDI on similar projects in the future.
“[We] will continue to support the creation of added value by enterprises by establishing and examining new business models to realise new services in various fields.”
Hitachi’s blockchain history and future thinking
Hitachi is no stranger to exploring the extensive possibilities of cutting-edge technology, especially blockchain. Last year, it announced the company was developing a blockchain platform in partnership with Mizuho Financial Group for supply chain businesses to manage orders and invoices on an immutable ledger.
The ultimate goal was to develop a record of every transaction, which would be easily accessible by anyone in the company. In turn, this would streamline the process of ordering an item.
The system was built on technology from the open-source Hyperledger blockchain consortium, of which Hitachi is a founding member. Hyperledger was created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies and is supported by leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology.
This investment and interest in blockchain technology earned Hitachi a place on the Reality Shares Nasdaq Blockchain Economy Index in late 2017. According to the index, Hitachi currently has a Blockchain Score of 82.
This is based on the company’s role in the blockchain technology ecosystem and its participation in industry groups, the degree to which the company’s blockchain technology is developed, innovative, economically impactful and publicly referenced, and the company’s general research and development expenditures.