Feeds

Square pushes pay-by-facial recognition

For when NFC is just too secure

Top three mobile application threats

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. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.