PayPal trails ‘pay with face’ tech in London

9 08 2013

You may have read similar articles on this these past few days, however, as ever I am going to look at this from a different stand point, and not just re-iterate the PayPal marketing….

PayPal, paying with your face and not using a PIN? hmmm

PayPal, paying with your face and not using a PIN? hmmm

 

First things first, the title and “pay with face tech” really conjures up images and thoughts of something really futuristic. When I first heard of PayPal paying with your face tech (a few months ago now) I instantly had visions of walking into a store, and just like in the Minority Report (film), being recognised by the store. When it came to paying, I just needed to have my goods scanned, added to the shopping cart then simply walk out. The reality though is nothing like this at all.

What’s really going on?

So what is really going on with PayPal and their “pay with face tech” claim? Well, if you are a PayPal customer, and you’ve attached your profile picture to your account, and you have an app on your mobile phone, and you walk into a store that supports “pay with face”, and you then remember to “check-in” from your PayPal app into that store, then you are ready to try it out. Phew….

When you get to that magic moment when you are asked to pay, the poor sales agent then scrolls through pictures of people who have opted to use the PayPal service. They spot you based on your profile picture, and then charge you by clicking a “charge” button next to your face. The customer then gets an alert to confirm they have paid and the amount.

So what do you think? Is that really paying with your face?

 

My picture = paying with my face?

I personally don’t see any “tech” on show at all with this solution. The face picture is basically there so the sales agent can spot you quickly(ish) from their app. So I would never say you are paying with your face at all, rather you are being identified by your face, by a user, no revolutionary technology there.

The process does sound quite coolish, and I am sure the promo videos will look great.  Even seeing a real live demo will look pretty good, but if there is any form of mass adoption of this, it will be a nightmare for the store and more importantly for the sales agent. Let’s think, if there were 50 customers checked into the store, how long would it take the sales agent to find you in their app based on your face. I have a vision of sales agents swiping up and down frantically trying to find you, and that’s if you still look like your profile pic. What about if you are just like my sister-in-law and change your hair colour every other week? That will be pretty tricky to find her in a heap of pictures….

 

Using your face though is nice…

I will say one positive thing here, and that is authenticating that the person standing in front of you is indeed the account holder, based on their profile picture is very useful. It provides a very accurate way of adding security to any process. After all, as a business, why would you carry on with a payment if the account holder picture isn’t matching the person in-front of you?

Because of this, I really like providing merchants with a facial picture for them to confirm before completing a payment. It adds a manual and highly accurate security check, that after all doesn’t take long to implement and can only add confidence in the payment system.

This is exactly what we do with Zync Wallet (http://www.cloudzync.me). When the consumer is checking out, the merchant gets to authenticate them based on some basic information and a profile picture. It also helps the consumer secure their account and transactions. So, it’s a win win…The difference here is that there is no need to “check in” when you walk into the store as a consumer, and the poor old merchant doesn’t have to search for the customers profile picture, rather it is sent to them at the point of checkout.

 

Final thoughts…

PayPal appears to have a number of mobile / payment options they are pushing. We have options that are dongle based allowing merchants to process card payments on their mobile device (think they have two options here), they launched a payment solution using a barcode and now this particular option. Unfortunately I feel like PayPal are trying lots of different options and seeing what seems to grab some form of traction (or at worse, they keep releasing different products so that their name is constantly in the media regarding mobile payments). PayPal aren’t the only company that seem to just be trying things, as opposed to really sitting down and thinking about the needs and requirements of businesses and consumers, equally….

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