Paymark to test facial recognition payments in Spark 5G innovation lab

New Zealand-based electronic funds transfer company Paymark is moving into Spark’s 5G innovation lab to test using biometric facial recognition technology to create an “invisible payment experience” for consumers, Stuff reports.

The company’s Strategy and Innovation Manager Michael McFadden says the technology could eventually replace POS terminals, and notes that New Zealand is already largely cashless, with 96 percent of transactions handled electronically. Consumers could enroll their facial image with their bank, to be authenticated by Paymark against images captured in-store by the vendor. Thumbprints or a password could be added as a second factor for enhanced security.

“Paymark will never know your identity. We don’t know who that face is, we match this face to the identity and the bank controls the security around who that person is,” McFadden said.

This could enable retailers to provide better customer service by freeing employees from the point of sale, according to Paymark.

“From a consumer perspective you’re going into a store for a great experience and that may not happen if you have to queue just to pay,” Paymark Head of E-commerce Darren Hopper told Stuff.

Auckland University Business School Associate Professor of Commercial Law Gehan Gunasekara warns that banks will likely have to keep logs, and those logs or the encrypted ID could be shared with law enforcement or other organizations.

Hopper says Paymark has no plans to share encryption keys.

“In this context what we’re certainly not building is the ability for other third-party enforcements to use this for their purposes. This is fundamentally being built for payment. The underlying tech we’re creating could, by all means, be used by those industries but we’ve certainly not got any plans to ship this information to those institutions,” he notes. “What we’re doing here is really conscious about privacy, how people want their information to be used.”

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