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Biometrics deployments for retail and hospitality increasing amid heightened scrutiny

Biometrics deployments for retail and hospitality increasing amid heightened scrutiny
 

Businesses across Australia, South and North America, and Asia are in the spotlight for their efforts to encourage the adoption of biometric technologies for a wide range of retail and hospitality applications, from loss-prevention to menu customization.

Australian retailers under scrutiny for deploying face recognition tech in-store

An investigation from Courier Mail (subscription required) based on a Choice study of Australia’s 25 biggest retailers revealed Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys have deployed facial recognition technologies in-store, apparently for security or theft-prevention purposes, without properly warning customers.

“Using facial recognition technology in this way is similar to [these retailers] collecting your fingerprints or DNA every time you shop,” Choice consumer data advocate Kate Bower told Courier Mail.

“Businesses using invasive technologies to capture their customers’ sensitive biometric information is unethical and is a sure way to erode consumer trust,” she added.

Moreover, the study also revealed that out of roughly 1000 Australian households surveyed, three in four people were unaware retailers were capturing their “faceprints,” and were concerned about it.

“Discreet signage and online privacy policies are not nearly enough to adequately inform shoppers that this controversial technology is in use,” Bower said.

More broadly, the use of biometric technologies on and by customers is a frequent matter of debate in Australia.

Last March, for instance, The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) denied Australian banks the changes they sought to the ePayments Code due to unresolved questions about biometrics, among other things.

Éxito to implement facial recognition in Colombian stores

Colombian retail group Éxito will deploy facial recognition technologies to enable buyers to pay using biometric authentication.

The announcement was made by the company’s president Carlos Mario Giraldo at the Tech Day event in Bogotá.

Giraldo said the company’s upcoming steps, which heavily involve facial recognition, will require investments of roughly 150,000 million Colombian pesos (roughly US$37.45 million).

The so-called ‘Smile ID’ project, currently being tested in the country, will be reportedly extended to other brands this year.

According to Giraldo, it will involve linking a credit card to users’ face biometric information, to enable fast purchases and refunds.

The executive also mentioned the social innovation programs sponsored by the company focused on contributing to the reconstruction of the country with the commercialization of products from territories affected by conflicts.

Raydiant’s facial analysis technology can ‘predict’ food preferences

The company, which raised $30 million in a Series B funding round in February, says its mission is to modernize the brick-and-mortar tool stack so that “brands can thrive in our new experience-driven world.”

Raydiant’s technology is the fruit of a partnership with Sightcorp and uses cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze people’s faces and suggest food preferences based on age, gender, attention, and even mood.

Earlier this year, Raydiant claimed the company had over 4,500 customers across the globe, but its biometric technologies have not yet been fully deployed in any restaurants.

Taisho Pharmaceutical deploys facial recognition vending machine in Tokyo

The Japanese pharmaceutical company started the trial sale of 30 different products including cold medicine, painkillers, and other drugs via a vending machine at JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.

The machine has a built-in facial recognition system designed to prevent users from bulk buying medicine, and pharmacists stationed inside the drugstore nearby will be notified through a device when a customer selects nonprescription medicine via the vending machine.

Taisho said it will use the trial to assess issues arising during testing in the hope of installing the vending machines in regions that do not have many drugstores.

This is not the first time that biometric vending machines are deployed in Japan. Last April, for example, NEC partnered with Osaka Metro to bring biometrics-powered payments to retail stores.

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