MyTouch makes it possible to pay with your fingerprintBusiness Profiles — By Melanie McIntyre on May 30, 2013 at 8:00 am
MyTouch puts payment at your fingertips− literally.
Developed at TechColumbus, MyTouch converts a user’s 16-digit credit card number to a unique algorithm that only MyTouch readers can uncode using biometric fingerprint technology. Though the technology isn’t new −in fact, several U.S. hospitals are using it for security purposes, according to MyTouch− using it for financial purposes is novel.
Interestingly, Mike Schirtzinger was inspired to create MyTouch after being inconvenienced during a beach vacation.
“Around lunch time, my friends and I would get hungry and walk up to the poolside restaurant,” he says. “Just when we were ready to order, we realized that no one had any cash or credit cards with them because we had all just been swimming. Not only did this frustrate me, that I had to go back up to my room, but it was also very inconvenient and took up time that I could have been out in the sun or already eating.”
He then decided that the ideal solution would have to be a process that wouldn’t involve an item a person could forget, lose, or even steal.
“This solution would have to be something that would always be with you in some way,” he says. “Then, it hit me. Something that everyone already had with them at all times and that was unique to only one individual person: their fingerprint.”
MyTouch isn’t just beneficial to users, though. Schirtzinger insists it’s good for businesses, too.
“Businesses are constantly looking for that competitive advantage,” he says. “They want new ways to increase or simplify their sales and grow with technology. They can link loyalty cards to buyers, protect against fraudulent charges, speed up transaction lines, and an even reduce credit card fees paid by the company.”
To learn more about MyTouch, keep reading.
The Metropreneur: Paying with your fingerprint sounds kind of sci-fi. Have you had to fight the notion that such a payment method isn’t sound?
Mike Schirtzinger: Don’t all good ideas start off sounding a little advanced or crazy? People have been dreaming about how to make things simpler and safer for far too long. Payment methods need to advance with the constant changing of technology and the people using it. Although it may seem kind of sci-fi, biometrics have been found on ancient Babylonian clay tablets when they used fingerprints to protect against forgery on legal contracts. Since then, we have developed readers that are extremely accurate in differentiating different prints.
[M]: How long did it take you to develop MyTouch?
MS: A good business is constantly improving and never done developing. Once we decided on the proper concept and all the details, we started creating the inovative prototype. Jon Miller is the CTO of MyTouch. He spent roughly ten months coding and refining the system. He blended his custom software with top-of-the-line biometric hardware to create the most effective system to date. Technology is constantly improving and so are we with the feedback from our customers.
[M]: When did you start working on MyTouch?
MS: I entered the Ohio State Business Plan Competition in 2010 with the beginning ideas of MyTouch. That competition opened my eyes to the complexity of where my idea could lead. While also attending The Ohio State University, I grew my idea into something that could be part of mainstream society.
[M]: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as you’ve worked to get MyTouch off the ground and how did you overcome it?
MS: There is no college course or how-to guide when beginning with a new product. Each idea is different and has different needs and there will be different questions and problems. Finding the right answers to my own problems was a challenge.
Managing my personal life and my MyTouch life was challenging because I wanted to put my all into my new ideas. When my college friends where leaving the bars on a Friday night, I was leaving the library. Starting a venture isn’t a 9-to-5 . There is no paycheck, job security or manual with a new idea. The risks you take don’t seem so risky when you believe in your idea.
[M]: What resources −people, organizations, books, websites, etc.− have been most helpful to you as an entrepreneur?
MS: Angels Dragons and Vultures, a book by Simon Acland. It’s the essential dos and don’ts on how to raise the right capital and, more importantly, when for your specific business.
I also really tried to utilize the right people and network out. I picked the brains of everyone I could that were in a field I wasn’t as strong in. Professors. Successful business owners. I realized that you are never too smart to not ask questions.
Nikki Modlich was a huge help. Being the program coordinator for Fisher College of Business’s Center for Entrepreneurship, she went above and beyond to connect me with people that would normally be out of reach for a normal college student.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
MS: There have been some questions about copying a fingerprint and trying to use it as payment. MyTouch uses an innovative reader that reads the live cells in a person’s finger. Those cells are what create the ridges that create your fingerprint. Without live cells, such as just a fingerprint image, the reader will not respond.
To learn more aout MyTouch, visit MyTouchPayments.com.
Melanie McIntyre served as editorial director of The Metropreneur from its launch in August 2010 to May 2013. She is also a featured writer for Columbus Underground and writes about fashion, style and pop culture on her blog, Thoroughly Modern Melly. Melanie is an Ohio State University graduate, lives in the Short North, and enjoys reading and running.
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