You Won't Need a PIN Number When You Pay for Everything with Your Face
Imagine a world where your debit card stays in your pocket at all times, and you never have to
You probably already know about payment systems like Google Wallet, which can use NFC technology to let you check out with the swipe of a smartphone. There are also services that use geo-fencing to register when you've walked into a store and when you walk out. The latest fad, however, doesn't require any extra equipment at all-at least none you'd be carrying around. You just need your face. It's a big, crazy step. But also one we have the tools to start working toward.
At present, there's a small slew of companies using
The elephant in the room, of course, is whether stores are willing to make the massive investment in extravagant facial recognition equipment to use the service, and whether people are willing to let Uniqul file their face away in a database of customers.
The basic premise behind Uniqul's checkout process is that you should never have to do anything but be yourself when paying for something. No wallet. No
It's hard to look past the basic idea behind Uniqul's service and not wonder what you gain by paying with your face. On one hand, the pay-by-face method is fast and entirely effortless. Again, there's no need wave your smartphone at anything. But even that benefit is tenuous, since 1) you're going to need to carry around a debit card or cash for everywhere without a face-reading kiosk, and 2) is the 5-second transaction (assuming it goes smoothly) really do much for you over a 15-second swipe-and-PIN purchase? And on the other hand, the system would require an upfront investment from merchants so that they have the right face-scanning equipment in the store and software to support it. Beyond that, the privacy question lingers. Will people that aren't using the service feel comfortable in front of the face-scanner, even if it's not scanning their faces?
Oh, and it's not free, either. Uniqul calculates fees based on physical space-from 0.99 a month for terminals in a one to two kilometer radius to 6.99 for global access-and it's entirely possible that you might end up paying for a service that you can only use in a couple of different location. Remember: Paying with your face is only fun when it works.
There are other players here, of course. An American company called
But again, plenty of people out there are very turned off by facial recognition software. You need only look as far as
There is another way, though. Ironically, plain old humans might be the best ""facial recognition"" tech out there. Square is arguably leading the way with its geo-fencing features (think of it as analog facial recognition). The new Square Wallet software syncs up your profile with a store's point-of-sale software so that the cashier knows who you are when you walk in based on-you guessed it-your face. The GPS and Wi-Fi chips in your phone help. And because the system registers your presence as soon as you walk into the store, it's possible to tailor a completely personalized shopping experience based on that individual customer's preferences.
That sounds like a great compromise, huh? You get the convenience of facial recognition without the fear-inducing, privacy-invading trouble of facial recognition software. That sounds all well and good until you realize that it's also creepy to walk into a random store and be greeted by your name. Oh well, though. The future's bound to be uncomfortable at one point or another. Just remember, it's only going to get here when it's as convenient for the stores as it is for you. [ Fast Company , Daily Mail ]
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