Korean govt agency developing ECG solution for mobile finance
12 June 2017 21:51 GMT

South Korea's internet agency is developing a multi-modal mobile authentication method it says is more secure than other biometrics.

A senior official from the state-run Korea Internet & Security Agency told the Korea Herald that the agency is developing bio authentication for mobile banking to commercialize it by late 2018, KISA’s chief researcher said.

“We are developing an algorithm for authenticating mobile banking with a combination of a fingerprint, heart rate and (an) electrocardiogram. The technology is expected to be much safer than existing biometrics including iris sensors, fingerprint scanners and facial recognition,” Jason Kim, chief of KISA’s security technology dissemination team, told The Korea Herald in a recent interview.

The newspaper reports that the KSA's biometric authentication method reads heart rates and electrocardiograms on a user’s smartwatch, which sends the information to his or her smartphone. The smartphone is then unlocked with the user’s fingerprint which enables the use of mobile banking.

This is not the first time heart rate and electrocardiogram authentication is being used to unlock a device. The British bank Halifax and the Royal Bank of Canada are already using electrocardiograms for authentication.

“However, the use of the combination of a fingerprint scanner, heart rate and (an) electrocardiogram -- which makes mobile banking much safer -- will be a world first (when it is developed next year),” the security expert said, adding that he will apply for a patent in June.

Kim said he is also in talks with some smartphone makers in Korea and China for the adoption of the biometric technologies.

“If the discussion goes well, a prototype using the biometric authentication may be available in the market later this year,” Kim said, without elaborating on the names of the firms.

The development of the biometrics technology is being led by Kim under the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning with an investment of 1.2 billion won ($1 million). KISA is working in partnership with the National University in Spain, the US Telebiometric Research Center and a small Korean tech company. The project started in June 2016 and will be completed by the end of 2018.