Feeds

Square pushes pay-by-facial recognition

For when NFC is just too secure

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Web 2.0 darling Square is promising to make everyone a regular by promoting pay-by-face: just smile and ask to have your purchase put onto your bill with no authentication required.

The system, which is opt in, knows which store you are in from the location of your phone, so presents the iPad-equipped shopkeeper with photographs of customers nearby – the customer identifies themselves by name and the shop taps on the corresponding photo, the customer then gets an electronic receipt.

There's explaining the concept for the hard of thinking, complete with jolly soundtrack:

The video takes place in a venue where they don't get a lot of customers, which helps, and one can't help thinking that the same process would be fraught with complications in a busy Starbucks, not to mention the obvious security implications.

Using photographs for identity has been thought of before; the credit card companies tried it a long time ago and discovered it was less reliable than signatures. So cursory was the facial-checking that one experimenter successfully used a card featuring a photograph of a gorilla's face, without shop staff blinking.

Users of Square's new service have to opt in, for each specific merchant, and get an electronic receipt, so anything beyond petty fraud should be noticed quite quickly. Users might have a hard time arguing that they didn't authorise a payment, but we'd assume a vendor couldn't do that very often without being blacklisted.

The service will appeal to those who want to appear popular, but don’t want to invest all that time patronising the same establishment, which is probably a significant number of people. But shopkeepers may prove more reluctant, as they'll have to have enough computing power, and connectivity, behind the till to make it work.

Square certainly needs more retailers signed up: its policy of giving away swipe readers is expensive and the company isn't going to justify its $1bn valuation with retailers only generating eight cents a week. Square showed this particular concept back in May, before it raised another $100m in VC cash, but it has now enabled the feature and produced a new video emphasising how the service enables shopkeepers to greet you by name as well as taking your money automatically. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
HP and Microsoft prove it again: Big Business Doesn't Create Jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.