Japanese finger vein ID device firm sets up in Hong Kong as part of Asia push

More reliable than fingerprint scanning, the new technology is expected to be adapted for use in ATMs or miniaturised for mobile phones

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 February, 2016, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 February, 2016, 4:00pm

A Japanese company developing finger vein identity authentication devices is set to open a Hong Kong office as it expands the use of the technology beyond its home market.

Japanese firm T4U is developing the technology for use in financial institutions as the unique pattern of veins inside a person’s finger is difficult to fake and, unlike fingerprints or face shape, is constant across a person’s lifetime.

“Fingerprints and irises are on the outside of the body, but veins are inside the body … so using finger veins makes copy or misuse impossible,” said Osamu Nakahashi, president of T4U.

The technology scans the underside of a user’s finger by passing light from infrared LEDs through the finger. Hemoglobin in the blood absorbs the light, marking out the unique pattern of the veins which is captured by a CMOS sensor and then matched against a database.

Each 0.3 second scan takes three images to compare to the database and because the technology relies on blood flow, the device can only be used on living subjects, according to Nakahashi.

The technology, which was patented by companies including Sony, is being developed by a series of companies, with plans to adapt the scanners for use in ATMs or to be miniaturised for mobile phones.

The unique pattern of the veins is captured by a CMOS sensor and matched against a database

T4U has been working with seven financial institutions and government departments in Japan since the middle of last year and plans to expand to Southeast Asia using Hong Kong as a regional base.

Nakahashi admitted the current devices were expensive at 20,000 yen (HK$1,382) each, but he added that in many cases only one device would be needed for authenticating identities.

He gave the example of an African hospital that has expressed interest in using the technology at its payment desk to process patients who are illiterate and are often unable to user fingerprint scanners as manual labour has worn down the prints.

Finger vein authentication is more reliable than finger prints as dry, wet or cracked finger tips can be problematic for current scanners.

Nakahashi said the company hopes to sell one million devices in Asia by the end of 2017.

InvestHK is assisting T4U to establish its regional office in Hong Kong.