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  • Facial Recognition: It's What PayPal Is Testing Out
Technology Articles > Software > Security & Privacy > Facial Recognition: It's What PayPal Is Testing Out

Soon, you could be paying for your morning coffee with your face using PayPal's new face-verification system. PayPal's new face verification feature lists nearby merchants using the company's app. Once a participating merchant has been found using the PayPal app, consumers can then check into a store by tapping on that store's name.

After entering a store and checking in, PayPal app users can then pay for an item by sliding a pin icon down the corner of a smartphone screen. Once that's done, the person's name and photograph will appear on the merchant's payment screen. After verifying the purchase, a merchant can then tap the photo and withdraw a PayPal payment.

Testing, Testing, Testing

Right now, the new PayPal face-verification feature is only available at 12 UK retailers including Cook & Garcia, The Tea Box, The Farmery, The Bingham Hotel, Revolution, CaffГ© Paolo, The Cedar Coffee Shop, Urban Diner, Pier 1 Fish and Chips, Noble Jones, Hill CafГ©, and Knot Coffee and Pretzel. All of these merchants are located in the Richmond upon Thames borough outside of London.

So far, the new PayPal payment system has been working rather well, and both merchants and consumers are happy with the new feature. Plus, it gives merchants a way to know and recognize consumer names and faces. But, there are some drawbacks to consider before you use this system.

Some Possible Problems

The number one issue that will inevitably bother people about the new PayPal feature is security. Some security experts warn that this type of authentication security is subject to greater human error (intentional or otherwise). PayPal assures consumers that the face authentication feature is secure, but most are still wary.

The other concern here is that consumers have to leave money in a PayPal account in order to pay via the payment service. PayPal doesn't have a great history of handling funds left in PayPal accounts securely. Many users have complained of frozen accounts and other problems related to leaving funds in a PayPal account.

Regular PayPal users tend to transfer funds as soon as possible to avoid any issues. Both of these drawbacks are important to keep in mind prior to using the new PayPal feature.

Is Facial Recognition the Future?

PayPal payments are already accepted worldwide, though facial recognition brings a new layer of security to the payment option. For many, leaving a bag or wallet at home and never worrying about physical money is a time-saving convenience. For others, payments through companies like PayPal seems risky.

While we're not quite at James Bond status with facial recognition, it does seem like payments are moving in the spy direction. Soon enough, your local coffee shop might not accept any form of payment that doesn't come with a fingerprint or face scan. For now, though, the new PayPal facial recognition feature is available in the UK only.

PayPal does expect to bring this feature to merchants in other parts of the world soon, and the company predicts that more than 2,000 merchants will be using PayPal payments by 2014.