The company recently put out a call for participants for its new Hands Free project, which will operate in the South Bay area of Silicon Valley in cooperation with select merchants including McDonald’s and Papa John’s.
One part of the project will leverage the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS capabilities of users’ Android and iOS devices in order to confirm in-store payments: a customer needs only to tell the cashier that she’s paying with Google and to sign her initials; meanwhile, the cashier will verify the profile picture of the user’s Hands Free account. Another arm of the Hands Free trial will use facial recognition via in-store cameras to confirm users’ transactions, allowing for an even speedier checkout process.
In its call for participants, Google was quick to hedge privacy concerns, noting, “All images captured by the Hands Free camera are deleted immediately.” Such an approach is a pragmatic safeguard against potential privacy issues such as those at the core of recent lawsuits filed against companies like Facebook and Shutterfly over their use of facial biometrics.
As even major financial organizations like Visa experiment with their own contactless payment technology, Google appears to be edging ahead at the mPayment frontier. And down the line, Hands Free could give Google’s Android Pay a leg up over rivals like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
March 3, 2016 – by Alex Perala