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Canadian grocery chain to deploy SnapPay facial recognition payment tech

Canadian grocery chain to deploy SnapPay facial recognition payment tech

A Toronto-based grocery store chain is planning on bringing biometric facial recognition payments to its stores in what may be a first for Canada, according to Yahoo Finance.

Chinese supermarket chain Foodymart, which operates six stores in Ontario and two in British Columbia, told Yahoo that it plans to purchase machines for facial recognition payments from SnapPay, which is also based in Toronto, and offers a way for Canadian retailers to implement international payment networks like AliPay and WeChat.

SnapPay launched just weeks ago, and says it hopes to deliver the first system in the first quarter of next year, though the agreement is still being finalized, and terms were not disclosed.

“I think that biometrics will not only drive payments, but it will be used in a lot of different industries,” SnapPay Chief Growth Officer Chris Renton told Yahoo Finance Canada.

Foodymart Executive Manager Ryan Li says the technology is a way to attract new customers, and also cut down on checkout times. He also notes that between 50 and 60 percent of the chain’s customers have lived in China, and speculates that most have previously used facial recognition for payments.

Facial recognition payment systems have signed up more than 100 million users in China, and reached more than 1,000 convenience stores, Nikkei Asia Review reports. Roughly 10 percent of customers of Seven-Eleven stores in the business districts of Guangzhou currently use the biometric payment method.

Despite concern with the technology elsewhere, including in Hong Kong, there is no strong criticism of facial recognition in China, where ease of use is the top priority, according to the report.

Not so in Canada.

“I find it profoundly troubling that we’re going to integrate technology that poses so many risks into mundane daily tasks,” Canadian Civil Liberties Association Director Brenda McPhail told Yahoo Finance Canada in an interview.

“Your face is not the same as your debit card number or your credit card number. It cannot be replaced and we don’t currently have systems to monitor fraudulent uses of our biometrics.”

“We are subject to very high levels of regulatory compliance and have extremely rigorous data security policies in place. We leverage third party audits to make sure we continue to meet escalated data security standards,” SnapPay says.

McPhail called for new rules and standards for the technology, as well as a public conversation.

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