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Lenovo, Intel, and PayPal Team On Fingerprinting Tech For Online Payments

September 23, 2016, 6:50 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

Paying for what you buy online through your personal computer may one day involve fingerprints instead of passwords.

Lenovo, Intel (INTC), PayPal (PYPL), and electronics-company Synaptics said Friday that they are collaborating on new technology that would let people use their fingerprints to verify their identities when using online payment services like PayPal.

The companies said that the new biometric system for personal computers is based on security standards created by the FIDO Alliance, an industry consortium that’s trying to ensure that emerging security technologies like fingerprint and iris scanners are able to work across different devices.

PayPal and Lenovo were some of the organization’s founding members. Companies like American Express, Bank of America (BAC), Google (GOOG), Samsung, and Qualcomm (QCOM) have since joined.

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As of now, it’s been mostly mobile devices like smartphones that have used biometric technologies like fingerprint scanning in conjunction with online payment systems like PayPal. Paypal currently lists several Samsung mobile devices like the Galaxy S5, Note 4, and Tab S tablet as a few of the models that are fingerprint-compatible.

The collaboration between Lenovo, Intel, PayPal, and Synaptics would bring similar scanning technology for online payments to Lenovo computers. Intel will provide custom processors tailored to meet the biometric security requirements of the FIDO Alliance while Synaptics will provide its fingerprint scanning system that includes encryption technologies and so-called anti-spoofing algorithms that would presumably help block hackers from breaking into the devices.

“The average user has to remember passwords for many different accounts, from PC log-in, email to online shopping,” Lenovo senior vice president of its PC and smart device business group Johnson Jia said in a statement. “We wanted to help change that by freeing users from the burden of remembering complex passwords by providing a simple authentication solution.”

The companies did not say when a laptop with the fingerprinting technology for online payments would be available.

The news comes a day after Yahoo said a major hack has compromised over 500 million of its user accounts. The hackers who breached Yahoo likely have obtained tons of consumer information like phone numbers, email addresses, and birth dates.

Cyber security advocates have praised biometric technology like fingerprint scanning as being tougher to crack into for hackers and more convenient for consumers who must currently maintain and update multiple passwords if they want to be secure on the Internet.

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Still, these biometric systems are not totally fool-proof. In September 2015, hackers breached the Office of Personnel Management and stole the fingerprints of 5.6 million people.

As Fortune’s Jeff Roberts explained, updating a stolen password after a security breach is much easier than updating one’s fingerprints.