Fingerprint authentication isn’t just about securing personal devices.

Biometric authentication—identifying people based on iris scans, digital fingerprints, voice prints or facial maps—is among our 100 Things to Watch in 2013. And as part of a move away from basic passwords (Passwords 2.0 is another of our Things to Watch), we’ll soon see smartphones incorporating this technology, especially fingerprint readers. Rumors have circulated that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint reader since Apple bought AuthenTec, a maker of fingerprint authentication and encryption technology, last August. Fingerprint Cards, a Swedish biometric-security company, has said that a Japanese brand plans to introduce phones with fingerprint sensors in the third quarter. Other companies in this market include CrucialTec, whose biometric fingerprint scanning lets users assign a different function for each finger. Fujitsu, an early leader in biometric authentication, offers a palm-vein reader that’s operable on tablets.

Fingerprint authentication isn’t just about securing personal devices but also may hold the key to verifiable mobile payments, airport security and biometric ATM machines. PayTango is a startup based on the idea of payment by fingerprint. It’s working to bring its new biometric reader to environments where identities are easily verifiable and repeat customers are common, such as college campuses and gyms.

Image credit: PayTango