You can now pay for your tickets in the Moscow metro with your face

A sign sits on a kiosk equipped with a facial recognition payment system - Face Pay - at Turgenevskaya metro station in Moscow on September 23, 2021.

A sign sits on a kiosk equipped with a facial recognition payment system – Face Pay – at Turgenevskaya metro station in Moscow on September 23, 2021.
Photo: Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP (Getty Images)

Contactless payment systems are quickly becoming commonplace part of our daily life. As of this week, you can even pay for metro tickets with your face. Before asking where you can sign up, this new facial recognition payment system has made its debut in Russia, raising concerns that it is being used by authorities as a monitoring tool.

Moscow city Friday announcement the launch of Face Pay, a new facial recognition payment system, in all of its more than 240 metro stations. Face Pay users can pay for their metro ticket by looking at the camera at some turnstiles without the need for a card, phone or cash. In a press release, Maxim Liksutov, the deputy mayor responsible for transport, said the city’s system was the first in the world to be deployed on such a large scale.

Nonetheless, Liksutov claimed that the addition of the Face Pay system does not mean the city will phase out other payment methods. He added that using Face Pay was optional.

“There is no equivalent of Face Pay in terms of quality and ease of use for the passenger anywhere in the world,” Liksutov said, according to an Internet translation of his statement. “I want to stress that Face Pay is just another way to pay for travel. Connection to the service is only voluntary if the passenger considers that this method of payment is suitable for him. Other payment methods won’t go anywhere.

To use Face Pay, passengers need to link their photo, credit or debit card, and transit card to the service in the Moscow Metro app. While this all sounds easy, authorities in Moscow have warned interested users to register in advance as the process could take several hours.

The launch of Face Pay has alarmed privacy activists, who fear Russia is using facial recognition to gain more control over its people. Stanislav Shakirov, Founder of the Digital Rights and Freedom of Information Group Roskomsvoboda, Recount the Guardian that full transparency is needed on how Face Pay will work in practice.

“We are getting closer to authoritarian countries like China that have mastered facial technology. The Moscow metro is a government institution and all data can end up in the hands of the security services, ”he said.

Moscow, for its part, has assured the public that all information will be securely encrypted and that the cameras on the turnstiles read biometric data, no faces or other personal data. Whereas facial recognition biometric data “measures the unique patterns of a person’s face by comparing and analyzing facial contours”, as explained Norton, it’s not really comforting.

The fact that it is used in Russia, which Human Rights Watch recently said he was expanding his Equally worrying is the use of facial recognition technology without regulation, supervision or data protection measures. Authorities have previously accused innocent people of being criminals because of facial recognition technology, the organization said. They also use it to prosecute political opponents and peaceful protesters.

Moscow officials predict that over the next two to three years, between 10 and 15 percent of metro passengers use Face Pay. If demand increases, the city will add more Face Pay turnstiles.

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