According to a recent report from Russian news site Interfax, the Moscow subway is planning on implementing a face biometrics-based contactless payment system at all of its metro stations by the end of this year.
The report, which cites comments from Moscow’s metro security service head Andrei Kichigin, states that the new system will require passengers to already have their biometric data on file with a Russian bank. When that is in fact the case, the FacePay system’s cameras, which are already in place, will detect and authenticate the passenger using facial recognition and debit the cost of the fare from their account while opening the turnstiles to allow them access.
“All the turnstiles of the metro and the Moscow Central Circle already have cameras that recognize faces,” said Deputy Mayor of Moscow Maxim Liksutov. “Our system will allow for face recognition, and if you are connected to a bank card with your biometric data, you will pass with an open turnstile.”
Moscow has an extensive network of facial-recognition enabled cameras — a part of its “Safe City” program — that have been criticised by many who say they are used to surveil protesters and others who are critical of the government.
The recent protests opposing the arrest of Alexei Navalny resulted in a number of people being detained at metro stations following facial recognition scans from nearby cameras.The camera network has also found utility in helping the city enforce COVID-19 related lockdown orders.
The new FacePay system has been in a test phase since the beginning of December, with 2,000 successful trips having been made as a part of the program.
According to Liksutov, the FacePay system also has the ability to recognize individuals who are wearing masks, an increasingly important feature for facial recognition systems in a world in which mask-wearing has become increasingly common due to the pandemic.
Sources: The Moscow Times, Interfax
March 4, 2021 – by Tony Bitzionis