PayPal wants to implant passwords in your stomach and your brain
"Natural body identification" could one day replace passwords and other modern methods of identification, claims PayPal developer chief
Photo: Jonathan LeBlanc
PayPal is working on a new generation of embeddable, injectable and ingestible devices that could replace passwords as a means of identification.
Jonathan LeBlanc, PayPal’s global head of developer evangelism, claims that these devices could include brain implants, wafer-thin silicon chips that can be embedded into the skin, and ingestible devices with batteries that are powered by stomach acid.
These devices would allow "natural body identification," by monitoring internal body functions like heartbeat, glucose levels and vein recognition, Mr LeBlanc told the Wall Street Journal.
Over time they would come to replace passwords and even more advanced methods of identification, like fingerprint scanning and location verification, which he says are not always reliable.
"As long as passwords remain the standard methods for identifying your users on the web, people will still continue to use 'letmein' or 'password123' for their secure login, and will continue to be shocked when their accounts become compromised," said Mr LeBlanc.
Slide taken from Jonathan LeBlanc's presentation 'Kill All Passwords'
Mr LeBlanc said PayPal is already working with some partners on developing vein recognition technologies and heartbeat recognition bands, and is also working with developers on prototypes of futuristic ID verification techniques.
He said that, by talking about new biometric verification technologies, PayPal is not necessarily signaling that it’s thinking about adopting them. Rather it hopes to position itself as a "thought leader".
“I can’t speculate as to what PayPal will do in the future, but we’re looking at new techniques – we do have fingerprint scanning that is being worked on right now – so we’re definitely looking at the identity field,” he said.
PayPal said in a statement that it has no immediate plans to develop injectable or edible verification systems, but that passwords as we know them will evolve, and PayPal aims to be at the forefront of those developments.
"We were a founding member of the FIDO alliance, and the first to implement fingerprint payments with Samsung," the company said a PayPal spokesperson.
"New PayPal-driven innovations such as one touch payments make it even easier to remove the friction from shopping. We’re always innovating to make life easier and payments safer for our customers no matter what device or operating system they are using.”
The most popular password of 2014 was 123456, according to SplashData, followed by password, 12345, 12345678 and qwerty.