Since the start of the streamlined eCommerce checkout, brick and mortar businesses have brainstormed ways to simplify their transaction process. “We don’t wait in line when we’re shopping on the Web – and we shouldn’t have to in stores,” said George Brostoff, CEO, and co-founder of SensibleVision.
Enter facial recognition technology. This software can scan a person’s face to complete a purchase, recognize a reward member or open up an individual’s phone. “It’s a fantastic solution that has customer experience at its very core. It’s fast, secure, and will fundamentally change the ways people pay for good and services – literally taking things at face value,” said Guillermo Sanchez, project leader of BBVA’s Global Payments team.
Indeed, facial recognition software has grabbed the interest of many industries. Some of whom have already started using this technology.
Where Facial Recognition is Being Used
Marriott began testing facial recognition to check in their guests at two of their locations in China. Similar to airline check-in kiosks, guests will check in with a form of ID, have their photo taken, sign customer service agreements and then provide contact information.
Partnering with Alibaba, Marriott’s kiosk will have a facial recognition program that will verify the guest checking in, matches the reservation before providing the room key.
MasterCard allows mobile app users to use facial recognition to authenticate payment. When doing so, users look into the camera and blink once (to prevent fraud). After completing a facial scan, the image is then sent to MasterCard for verification.
Uniqul currently lets users checkout without a smartphone or wallet. Installed on a tablet near the checkout counter, their facial recognition program scans a user’s face and then requires that they click okay to verify the purchase. Users have to sign up online to use Uniqul and enter their payment information before making in-store purchases.
How Facial Recognition Works
Facial recognition is an AI-based technology. The basic fundamentals of the technology are simple and similar across the various companies that utilize it. First, the scanner needs a picture of the person’s face. Next, the software reads the geometry that picture by reading things like the distance between a person’s eyes and/or the distance between their forehead to chin. The technology is looking for facial landmarks to identify an individual person.
Once an individual’s facial scan is created and stored, this faceprint image will be the one that scanners use to identify that person. For instance, Uniqul will use the stored image of John Smith to identify him when he makes a grocery store purchase.
Some companies, like MasterCard, require people to move their heads a little during a scan. Referred to as a liveliness test, it is a step towards preventing fraud or a security breach.
How China is Using Facial Recognition
China leads the charge in utilizing facial recognition for payment. They have multiple industries where facial recognition has become the way to pay or recognize customers. In the retail industry, they have created smart stores where customers register with their facial scan and payment information. They can then complete purchases at physical stores by having their face scanned.
Some supermarkets have even become all digital and have no in-store personnel. Upon entering the store, customers scan their face and payment method. When leaving the store with their items, customers pass through a smart payment lane that processes their purchases while using the previously scanned face and payment information.
Certain banks are also using facial scans to allow the withdrawal of cash. Using a facial scan, individuals do not need a bank card or cell phone to validate who they are or their account information.
There are even their hospitals are beginning to integrate facial scanning to process a payment. When using this payment option the first time, users need to provide their ID number which accompanies the facial scan. Once the system has a scan stored, all users need to do is enter their phone number to confirm who they are.
What Industries Would Use Facial Recognition
Although this technology is currently used for product payments or hotel check-ins, there are other ways businesses are looking to use this tool.
Security will be a huge industry for facial scanning. Whether verifying a person boarding a plane or allowing access into a home, facial recognition determine if a person is allowed access to specific areas.
Customer service is another area where facial recognition could be useful. Some Chinese cafes have used it to greet customers entering their store. It could also be used in amusement parks to let guests into different attractions.
The healthcare field could use this information for streamlining patient check-ins or to recognize diseases and illnesses.
Overall, facial recognition is a growing way to ensure an easy customer checkout experience. Although it has not been utilized to the fullest extent in the U.S., other countries like China continue to integrate it into their daily activities. In the near future, however, many businesses will be using this technology to simplify their checkout process.