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Google piloting payment app that uses face biometrics for authentication


Google is piloting a new payment app in San Francisco called Hands Free that uses face biometrics for authentication.

The new system is available on Android and iOS devices and uses face biometrics and your phone’s location as two identifying factors to verify it’s you making the purchase.

Hands Free is currently available in San Francisco’s South Bay area at participating McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations, as well other local restaurants and cafes. There is a complete list of all participating establishments within the Hands Free app.

According to media reports, to use the payment system, the user tells the cashier they want to pay with Google, then the cashier asks for his initials. The Hands Free system should have a list of all Hands Free-using devices within range of the terminal so when the cashier enters the initials, they can see a list of people close by with those initials. The cashier then finds your face in the system, matches it to your face in real life, and then processes the payment.

Google is also testing an automated version where a built-in camera matches your face against the photo on file. Google says any photos taken by Hands Free cameras in stores are deleted immediately.

Once the transaction is finished, you will receive a notification on your phone letting you know the payment went through.

Hands Free also uses a variety of methods to identify your device and its location, including Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, and your phone’s location services.

Hands Free works with Android devices running version 4.2 (Jelly Bean) or higher, and the iPhone 4S and up. The new pilot program is not a part of Android Pay.

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