Russia’s X5 Retail Group is moving forward with the expansion of its face-based naked payments scheme. The company first introduced the technology at coffee shops in Moscow in 2020, and then followed that up with a trial at 52 Perekrestok supermarkets.
X5 is now expanding the trial based on its early success. The naked payments system will be available in 150 Perekrestok supermarkets before the end of March, before rolling out to Pyaterochka convenience stores in Moscow in April. If things continue to go well, X5 hopes to have the system in 3,000 stores by the end of the year.
Shoppers that want to use the system will be asked to submit to a facial recognition scan when they pay for their goods at participating stores. The money will then be taken out of that person’s account once their identity has been verified. The scan will be carried out with a 3D camera built into self-checkout terminals, and customers will need to remove their masks to facilitate the match.
X5 developed the naked payments service in collaboration with Visa and Sberbank, the latter of which will be storing and encrypting all of the biometric data being used in the trial. The service will initially only be available to Sberbank customers, and the bank will not be sharing their biometric information with any other parties.
“This is a fast, convenient and secure technology of the future,” said X5 CEO Igor Shekhterman. “I’m convinced that contactless biometric payment solutions will soon be used universally, and this payment method will become as customary as paying with a bank card or a smartphone.”
Of course, X5 is not the first company to provide their customers with a naked payments option. Alipay started offering Smile to Pay service at KFC restaurants in China as far back as 2017, while SnapPay has worked to bring the utility to North America. In 2020, Shinhan Card launched its own scheme in South Korea, and PopID brought its PopPay platform to numerous restaurants and retail locations in the United States.
Sberbank entered the facial recognition business when it purchased a 25.07 percent stake in VisionLabs in 2017. The bank was also the first to support Apple Pay when the service debuted in Russia one year earlier.
March 11, 2021 – by Eric Weiss