Finnish firm to trial facial recognition payments
13 November 2014 11:54 GMT

Uniqul’s facial payment system has been in development for about two years

Finnish tech firm Uniqul plans to launch a pilot of a facial recognition-based payments system at cafes in early 2015.

Uniqul’s payment system, which recognises customers based on their geometric facial proportions, has been in development for about two years. The pilot will be launched in the country’s capital region, which includes the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.

CEO Oscar Tuutti told Planet Biometrics that the system starts verifying customers from up to four metres away. By the time they have reached a checkout, the final verification process only takes around "half a second".

The facial recognition feature can be incorporated into current cash register systems, with Uniqul supplying tablets and webcams to retailers.

While the pilot will use a PIN system as a back-up, Tuuti said he firm plans to “dial down” its usage – and that this process would be assisted by incoming machine learning capabilities.

Referring to the three building blocks of innovative payments technologies – speed, convenience and security, Tuuti said that NFC payment systems such as contactless are sacrificing the former for the latter.

“Biometrics offer a new level of security, and Uniqul’s facial recognition system also has better convenience and speed levels than some rivals. There is no concern over forgetting card, PINs or passwords”.

The Uniqul enrols users at sale locations, with biometric data stored in secure clouds that are compliant with EU data protection rules, he added.

In September, Mastercard said it had completed a "successful" voice and facial recognition payments trial. In the same month, academics at China’s Chongqing Institute of Green said they had developed a facial recognition payment application with “near-perfect accuracy”.

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