February 26, 2014, 4:13 PM

PayPal and Samsung unlock mobile payments with a fingerprint

The next edition of the Samsung’s Galaxy S phone will let PayPal authorize payments from a fingerprint scan.

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Starting in April, some users of eBay Inc.’s PayPal payment service will be able to pay for online purchases made from their smartphones with a swipe of their finger. PayPal users will have to be using Samsung Electronics’ newest Galaxy phone, the S5, to access the service, the companies announced this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Samsung will be pre-loading the Galaxy S5 with FIDO Ready software, a biometric authentication technology developed by the FIDO Alliance, a group that formed in 2012 to set standards for online authentication technologies. FIDO stands for Fast Identity Online and its board of directors includes executives from PayPal, Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Discover Financial Services, among others.

The PayPal and Samsung launch is the first for the FIDO authentication technology, the FIDO Alliance says. The Galaxy S5 comes with a fingerprint sensor built in. A consumer sets up her fingerprint identity on the phone—the fingerprint can also be used to unlock the phone—and when she encounters an online or store retailer that accepts PayPal for payment, she can swipe her finger across the sensor to authorize payment. After the initial set-up, a consumer does not have to enter a user name or password.

“By working with Samsung to leverage fingerprint authentication technology on their new Samsung Galaxy S5, we are able to demonstrate that consumers don’t need to sacrifice convenience to increase security,” says Hill Ferguson, PayPal’s chief product officer, in a blog post announcing the service. He says no personal or payment data PayPal logs is stored on the smartphone. The FIDO Ready software authenticates the fingerprint and communicates between the fingerprint sensor and PayPal’s servers. PayPal does not have the fingerprint data.

The Galaxy S4 launches in April in 26 countries, including the United States. 

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