CMU Students Build Fingerprint-Based Payment System


Four Carnegie Mellon University seniors have developed PayTango, a fingerprint-based identification and payment system.

PayTango pilot-tested its terminals in partnership with CMU’s Dining Services at one campus location in February. The company expanded to three dining locations in March and opened enrollment to all students signed up for a university meal plan or one of the flexible dollar programs.

PayTango is expanding to gyms, which could replace membership cards with the fingerprint technology. Within the next year, the PayTango team also hopes to launch on other college campuses and at a variety of retailers.

With majors ranging from information systems and human-computer interaction to industrial design, Brian Groudan , Kelly Lau-Kee , Umang Patel and Christian Reyes combined their expertise to launch PayTango, as an alternative to digging through backpacks, pockets and purses for their student identification and debit cards.

Brian Groudan: We believe you should be able to walk into any establishment and prove who you are without carrying anything — no apps, no cards.  

PayTango’s registration process takes about 20 seconds, says the PayTango team. Users place two fingers on the terminal’s fingerpad, swipe the card they want to register and type in a phone number. Any card with a magnetic stripe can be registered in the system, including credit, debit, gift, loyalty and identification cards.

On repeat visits, users place their fingers on the fingerpad to make a payment. The service is paid for through contracts with merchants, making it free for users.

PayTango is part of CMU’s Greenlighting Startups initiative, designed to speed CMU faculty and student innovations from the research lab to the marketplace.

The PayTango team applied to, and was accepted, at the Y Combinator startup accelerator in Mountain View, Calif.

[Image courtesy: PayTango]

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