Could Facial Recognition Be The New Debit Card:

Long ago, in a not so far-off land called ‘Britain,’ we bartered for what we needed. Transactions came in the form of exchanging animal skins for meat or by selling a hard day’s work for a square meal. Over time, coins arrived. ‘It’ll never take off!’ our medieval ancestors likely lamented before realising they were much easier to lug around than livestock. At that time, seemingly having the power to summon up what they wanted with a mere twitch of their nose, most likely would have been dubbed witchcraft and wizardry. Yet, in today’s world, this is a real science, with facial recognition a fast-growing industry and our tech geniuses the wizards of our day.

Furthermore, facial recognition has escalated the debate over the future of physical money. In light of the recent pandemic, most of us probably spent 2020 relying on our mobile phones to make payments. Namely, we are dealing not with a question of whether we are witnessing its demise, but one of ‘when’ that demise will be. And, if the past can teach us anything, it is that financial transactions are, and always will be, a thing of change. 

Changes in Transactions of the Future

Our preamble of an introduction shows that the financial transaction used at any given time fits in with its users’ resources and needs. So, it surely is not too great a leap to wonder how tech companies plan to use facial recognition in payment technology going forward? 

Naturally, this will raise many ethical questions. Would facial recognition technology simply allow payments to become far easier and more convenient than we could ever dream up? Or, will it be another step further towards some Big Brother dystopia?

For many of us, it is likely to be an unsettling thought. Chips in our faces is something that surely belongs in the realm of SciFi, right? It would never make it to the real world. But…

Facial Recognition Is Already Being Used For Payments

Millions of people around the world are already using the technology to make payments. That’s right; it not only already exists; it is also actively in use.

At the moment, China has seen the greatest uptake. An astonishing 98% of mobile payments are made through Alipay, which is co-run by Alibaba and WeChat Pay. As the facial recognition market picks up pace, the two are increasingly finding themselves going head to head for supremacy in this new and upcoming tech field. And, they’re not alone!

ePopID in America has also joined the race. This operates a little differently: you sign up via the website, upload a photo of your face and link the account to your bank card. The uploaded photo then gets stored in the cloud, ready for its app to access when purchases are made. 

According to PopID’s CEO, John Miller, using your face has little difference from using your phone. “It’s just another way to identify yourself,’ he says. “The picture taken at point of sale is destroyed immediately.” Presumably, the idea is that it is less intrusive than paying by phone, which can use GPS to track your every move.

The Future for Facial Recognition in Transactions

There could also be another problem. Forgive us for thinking of this, but what happens if you ever decide to (dare we say it) ‘have some work done?’ You have your nose-straightened, a facelift, or some blemish removed? Could our payments be declined because we suddenly look ten years younger?… or, heaven forbid, ‘ten years older.’ We can just see it now, ‘I’m sorry, sir/madam, your payment has been declined. Your face doesn’t fit our expectation…’ 

So, all in all, these seem to be exciting times for our transactions. But, whether facial recognition will be another candidate for the ‘regression through progression’ bin remains to be seen. What does remain clear, though, is that while the tech world may be churning out new and innovative ideas on an unprecedented scale at the moment, care does need to be taken to keep pace with the changeable existence that being a human being means…

Written by Chris Page

Chris is an experienced financial service professional who joined the business in 2013, as a result of his hard work and dedication he was made a director of the firm late 2014.

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