Students in southern Sweden have developed a biometric payment system that can be used to buy things simply by placing a palm on a screen. 

The biometric reader that the system is built around emits infrared light that is absorbed by the veins in the palm. The vein pattern is subsequently analysed by the terminal to establish the user’s identity, and process a payment from a previously linked bank account. 

Inventor Fredrik Leifland, a software engineer at Lund University, said he decided to develop a biometric payment solution with several classmates, through a start-up called Quixter, after realising how long card transactions can take.

The technique that underpins their system already existed but until now there has been no system for using it as a form of payment.

“We had to connect all the players ourselves, which was quite complex," said Leifland. "The vein scanning terminals, the banks, the stores and the customers. The next step was finding ways of packaging it into a solution that was user-friendly."

One of the technology’s main benefits is security, according to Leifland. “Every individual's vein pattern is completely unique, so there really is no way of committing fraud with this system. You always need your hand scanned for a payment to go through,” he said.

In order to sign up for to use the hand payment service, a person must visit a store with a terminal, and enter their social security number and phone number. The palm scanner then takes three readings before sending a text message with an activation link from the website. Registration is completed by filling in a form with other information.

There are currently 15 stores and restaurants predominantly around the Lund University campus that use the terminals, with roughly 1,600 active users. Quixter's business model is to take a cut of transactions in the same way that credit card companies do.

Leifland said he plans to expand the idea further, adding there are businesses around the world that are interested.