How cardless checkout has reinforced shoppers’ safety during the pandemic
Seoul’s Lotte World Tower, where the world's first palm vein authentication payment solution was launched
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How cardless checkout has reinforced shoppers’ safety during the pandemic

Sam Forsdick — January 2021

Korean financial solutions company Lotte Card became one of the first companies to allow customers to make payments with a simple scan of their palm. Digital payment manager Sim Geun Bo explains how the pandemic accelerated its adoption of the Fujitsu PalmSecure contactless service.

• Watch Lotte Card’s Sim Geun Bo speaking at Fujitsu ActivateNow: ‘Retailing in a pandemic world’

It has been a challenging year for retail stores everywhere. Even where outlets have been allowed to trade, the global pandemic has forced the introduction of many new safety measures to protect shoppers and staff, including one-way systems, compulsory mask wearing and limits on the number of customers in any store.

Technology has played a big part too, enabling a safer retail experience through contactless payments — in some cases without the shopper even having to take out a card or pay with a mobile device. During the global pandemic, South Korea’s Lotte Card, for example, has found increased relevance and popularity for the use of palm-vein authentication systems, which allows users to make a checkout payment in stores by simply holding their hand over a scanner.

The financial services company — part of the multinational Lotte Corporation — was one of the first retailers anywhere to introduce Fujitsu PalmSecure technology for in-store payments when it began trials in 2017.

Lotte Card’s digital payment manager Sim Geun Bo

Lotte Card’s digital payment manager Sim Geun Bo sees palm-vein authentication as a natural evolution of payment solutions. “Mobile payment services continue to enable greater customer convenience,” he said at the recent Fujitsu ActivateNow digital conference. “But looking further ahead and forecasting the next technology, it will be payment services that mean customers carry nothing with them.”

He outlined how Lotte Card explored a number of biometric options, including facial, iris and fingerprint recognition before adopting Fujitsu PalmSecure, which works by analyzing the unique pattern of blood vessels that every person has in their palm.

Lotte Card's palm vein system allows payments to be made with a scan of the hand

“We were looking for a more comfortable way for customers to make payments — and which would be [widely] accepted.” Geun Bo said. “We came to the conclusion that putting out a hand is the most natural way for customers to use biometric authentication.”

Technology from the future

Authentication accuracy was another key factor in the company’s decision. The complex nature of vein composition in the human palm means that a PalmSecure scanner has a false identification rate of just 0.00008% and an identification failure rate of 0.01%.

As a result, customers felt comfortable about using such a biometric service, said Geun Bo, and “thrilled to be using a technology that they may have only previously seen in movies.”

PalmSecure scanners have provided clear benefits during the pandemic, he highlighted, with rapid and cardless checkout helping to make customers feel safer.

Geun Bo predicted that this challenging period for retail will serve to accelerate a trend that is already underway: “We expect that biometric authentication technologies will replace the existing ID systems because they make certification quicker and more efficient. In the future, they will likely become more common in everyday life.”

• Watch Lotte Card case study video

First published January 2021
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