In the months leading up to the launch of the iPhone 5S, and confirmation of Apple’s Touch ID system, we heard all manner of suggestions for how the company might make use of fingerprint scanners on its phones. One idea that kept floating to the top of the pile was that it could be tied to a new mobile payment system, authenticating purchases. Now, to an extent, that’s happened – iPhone 5S users can use their fingerprints when buying things on iTunes or in the App Store – but it’s not quite what was rumored, working at brick-and-mortar retailers. Where Apple dropped the ball, Android looks like it will be the one to pick it up, and a new system called BarTong will be the one to make fingerprint-based retail payments a reality.
BarTong launches in South Korea with support for the fingerprint scanners on Pantech phones, though we should see it work with future models like the HTC One Max with their own fingerprint scanners, as well as come to both the US and China. A joint effort from Crucialtec and Danal, BarTong will let you do away with PINs, like you might use with a payment system like Google Wallet, and allow you to use your fingerprint when making payments.
Unlike solely-NFC-based systems, BarTong generates barcodes displayed on your smartphone’s screen, which are then scanned by the retailer. That could make it difficult for US carriers to stop, as they’ve endeavored to do when faced with the threat of Google Wallet.