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PopID deploys first U.S. facial recognition payment network for shops and restaurants in Pasadena

City Council weighing police use of face biometrics

biometric facial recognition

A biometric facial recognition-based payments system from PopID is coming to restaurants and stores in Pasadena, California to allow customers to make secure, contactless payments.

Shops around the city initially rolled out the PopEntry facial recognition device to enable workers and students to ‘scan-in’ to their place of business or college campus. Now they have followed up by deploying the PopPay service for transactions with a credit or debit card registered to their PopID account.

The announcement lists 25 area restaurants and retailers participating in the program so far, including Cali Group’s CaliBurger.

“In each new city we enter, we initially focus on installing PopEntry systems in the workplace and on local college campuses,” said John Miller, chairman of Cali Group and CEO of PopID. “As these communities grow comfortable using PopID to check in, we enlist area restaurants and retailers to offer PopPay for transactions.”

Customers can use the technology at drive-thrus, in-venue kiosks, display screens affixed to sneeze guards at counters, or tableside on a hand-held Android device brought by a waiter. Customers are sent confirmation text messages to confirm payment, and PopID accounts can be tied to loyalty programs.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the system struggles with masks.

Cashiers verify the customer’s name during the process, but the Times suggests PopPay could still speed up lines, and PopID offers lower processing fees than other payment networks or credit card companies.

The article details CaliBurger’s evolution, and the tech startups that have spun out of it under Miller’s leadership.

More than 1,000 Pop Entry units have been sold in recent months, and several thousand more are planned for installation before the end of 2020, the company told the Times. Modern Restaurant Concepts, parent of regional chain Lemonade, plans to deploy Pop Entry tablets in all 18 Lemonade locations in California, and other restaurants in Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Indiana.

Miller says PopID’s technology is compliant with Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, setting it up for a nationwide rollout even in the face of tightening regulations.

PopID recently partnered with Panasonic to integrate its facial recognition with retail kiosks.

City council considers law enforcement use

The Public Safety Committee of Pasadena’s City Council, meanwhile, recently held a meeting to see a presentation by Pasadena Police on their use of facial recognition, Pasadena Now reports.

Pasadena Police currently use a facial recognition system from Vigilant based on mugshots from across the U.S., and the Los Angeles County Regional Identification System (LACRIS). The former system has not produced hits for the department, but the regional system has helped in 30 cases, a representative said.

“The public conversation regarding facial recognition is critical so we can set boundaries and learn to live with technology as opposed to eliminating it,” Police Chief John Perez told Pasadena Now. “It also allows us to correct misinformation. Police accountability is equally important so we gain the trust and confidence from the community in how we deliver services for a better community.”

The publication notes that despite expressing concerns about the technology, local activists did not attend a media presentation on the software in February.

A local councillor claimed to Pasadena now that “We know empirically that nearly 40 percent of the false matches by the facial recognition tool being used by police agencies involved people of color.”

Pasadena Police’s approach contrasts with that of nearby Carlsbad, where city officials claimed local agencies did not use facial recognition, before 14 Carlsbad Police officers were found to be using special hardware to capture face biometrics.

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