The Chinese city of Shenzhen is moving forward with plans for a naked payments scheme that will allow commuters to buy tickets with a facial recognition scan. The system is still in an early phase of deployment, and is currently available only to passengers over the age of 60. Those passengers are rewarded with free subway rides for registering in the system.
The same deal will soon be extended to army veterans in addition to the elderly. The technology for the system is being developed by Tencent, which is based in Shenzhen and helps with the operation of metros in the city. The company’s facial recognition tech has now been installed in 18 stations and includes 28 automatic gate machines and 60 self-service ticket kiosks.
Other cities participating in the new scheme include Shanghai, Qingdao, Nanjing, Nanning, and Jinan, where 500 commuters are reportedly using the system on a daily basis.
While watchdogs in other countries have raised privacy concerns about face-based surveillance schemes, that’s unlikely to be too much of an obstacle in China, where facial recognition is widespread and there is much more support for naked payments. Alipay’s Smile to Pay system already allows Chinese customers to use facial recognition at their local KFC, while UTStarcom and China Mobile Group have been developing a line of 5G vending machines with facial recognition capabilities.
Shenzhen subway operators first began trialing a face-based boarding system with Huawei technology back in March.
September 23, 2019 – by Eric Weiss