Pay with a smile

Imagine the convenience of being able to go up to a kiosk and simply smiling to order and pay for your food. So-called “pay-with-a-smile technology” is not just the dream of science fiction authors, it has become reality for millions. From KFC locations in China to CaliBurger restaurants across California and beyond, millions are now able to use their faces to be recognized, repeat (and modify) past orders and execute a payment. While the convenience of such technology is obvious, some are concerned regarding how the technology can (and will) be used as well as regarding the security surrounding it. For facial recognition to become the new norm, governments and private institutions wishing to employ its use must satisfactorily answer the following questions:

  • How will facial recognition be used? For example, China is currently using it to publicly shame jaywalkers, a practice most in the West will simply not tolerate from their governments.
  • How reliable is facial recognition? Although the technology is not quite ready to replace identification on a government level (e.g. to replace passports), it has proven itself as more than reliable enough for commercial transactions. In fact, it is more secure than traditional credit cards.
  • What about data privacy? A blockchain-based database provides a relatively high level of security.
  • What’s its legal status? Facial recognition is still new for the majority of people. Some locations (e.g. San Francisco) have banned its use at all levels, while others strictly regulate how companies can engage in its use (e.g. Europe and the GDPR). For most part however, there is not yet any relevant legislation covering the use of the technology.

Although there are clearly some questions yet to be answered, it is clear facial recognition technology is most likely here to stay. So, practice smiling; it might just be how you pay for products and services in the near future.