Imagine you are going to the supermarket and you pay without your phone or credit card. You only look at a camera, authenticate your identity and then make the transaction. Welcome to the futuristic world of facial recognition payment. This may sound more like something out of a science fiction novel or movie, but this is now possible.
The creation of the facial recognition payment systems comes as a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has radically accelerated the shift to biometric contactless payment methods. It is worth noting that this appetite will see the number of users securing payments via software-based facial recognition exceed 1.4 billion globally by 2025 compared to just 671 million in 2020, according to a market report by Juniper Research.
Contactless payments helped consumers keep safe during the coronavirus-induced pandemic— as facial recognition payments are taking off, there will be no need to carry a smartphone, bank card, or any form of identification, or even have to enter a pin number.
To make contactless and facial recognition-based payment possible, a Netherland-based company called VisionLabs, recently announced the launch of its pioneering biometric payment hardware — the VisionLabs LUNA POS Terminal.
This payment terminal scans the customer’s face, similar to using facial recognition to unlock a smartphone. Milliseconds later, the face template is sent to the payment service provider or bank for identification. An algorithm then identifies whether the customer is who they say they are, determining transaction success or failure.
A facial recognition system has endpoints, which are able to measure certain variables of a person’s face, including the width or length of the nose, space between eyes and depth of eye sockets, and even the contour of the cheekbones— using this data, a faceprint is created.
To make payments using faceprints, every face has to be linked to their bank accounts. This data, is then matched by the payment terminal for authentication purposes. So, instead of paying via cash or through UPI apps, consumers can scan their faces on a screen mounted on the payment terminal and have the money automatically deducted from their linked accounts.
“We introduced our first generation of LUNA POS with no credit card support in 2019 to simply try out the face-based payment process. It quickly turned out that the adoption rate of this technology exceeded our expectations: we have recorded a conversion rate upwards of 40 percent to face payments among different types of major national banks and retailers,” said Anton Nazarkin, Global Business Development Director at VisionLabs.
In the case of facial recognition-based payment technology, several concerns have been raised related to facial recognition software being tricked by scammers, the lack of two-step authentication, and most importantly— privacy concerns related to the use of faceprints for surveillance purposes.
However, VisionLabs believes that is important to remember fraud has a cost to the fraudsters too and it is much more expensive to spoof the face recognition system compared to well-known credit card fraud approaches. “This is a common belief among some industry experts however that is incorrect for one simple reason: with contactless card payments, there is no way to make sure that the person presenting a card is the actual cardholder. On the contrary, with facial recognition payments the actual identity of the payer is confirmed in real-time,” the company told indianexpress.com.
Interestingly, the company also claims that it does not save any facial data and will never capture any faces without consent from the customer and authorisation from the terminal operator.