UK-based payment processor Worldpay is conducting trials of a facial biometric verification system for payments in stores, using a prototype device that includes an upward-facing camera embedded into a POS terminal.
The PED Cam (PIN Entry Device Camera) takes a picture of the card user when they enter a PIN and then matches it against a biometric template linked to their card in order to authorise payment.
“The resulting image generates a unique biometric template, linked to the individual’s card and is stored in a secure, central database managed by Worldpay,” the company says. “Card terminals linked to the central database capture a fresh image of the card user’s face every time they enter their PIN, learning the profile of the user over time to improve identification.
“This image is automatically cross-referenced against the biometric template already captured and recorded in the system, providing a second layer of authentication to verify the identity of the card user.”
Evaluating consumer reaction
“The prototype design uses low-cost, readily available technology and, whilst the team behind the research is keen to stress its design is still in concept phase, they believe the principle of using facial recognition to verify the identity of card users has a number of distinct advantages over other forms of biometric security currently being trialled in the payments space,” Worldpay adds.
“Worldpay’s team of researchers are currently evaluating consumer reaction to the camera in controlled trials as well as investigating how consumers could opt-in to the biometric system to assess the viability of the prototype. The team is also exploring the potential of using the biometric profile captured by the device as a way of verifying user identities online as well as in-store.”
“Biometrics has attracted a lot of attention, but achieving sufficient scale has always been difficult in a face-to-face environment,” says Nick Telford-Reed, Worldpay’s director of technology innovation. “It’s partly because of cost, but also because people don’t want the admin hassle of registering their details.
“With this prototype we would remove that hassle. Card users could be automatically enrolled in the system when they use their card. The design also means retailers would not have to find space for another device on their already busy sales counters.”