Schools in Scotland let students make contactless meal payments with their face

Student hand reaching for meal having paid for meal using contactless face recognition
CONTACTLESS: Students authenticate payment from a prepaid online account using their face at the POS

Students at secondary schools in North Ayrshire in Scotland can now opt to make contactless payments for their school meals and snacks by authenticating their identity using biometric face recognition technology.

Nine schools have implemented the system, enabling students to select their meal and authenticate payment from a prepaid online account by looking into a camera at the point of sale.

The system also allows students to pre-order items from their school canteen via their mobile phone or an online portal.

Facial recognition provides “a safe, secure, and contactless method of identifying the pupil at the till,” North Ayrshire Council says.

“The optional facial recognition system will be used for authenticating all secondary school pupils that require access to school meals and/or snacks, including those eligible for free school meals.

“Young people can opt out of using facial recognition.”

“Facial recognition data is encrypted using AES-256 and is either stored on a school server within the secure school network or hosted on a secure Azure server,” technology provider CRB Cunninghams adds.

“This truly contactless identification method means catering teams can safely increase their speed of service by simplifying the payment process for students, who no longer need to carry any form of identification such as a card or even enter a PIN.”

  • UPDATE: North Ayrshire Council paused the pilot on 25 October after it received “a number of enquiries” about the payments system. “Whilst we are confident the new facial recognition system is operating as planned, we felt it prudent to revert to the previous PIN system while we consider the enquiries received,” the council said in a tweet

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