New Google Technology Lets Consumers Pay for Things With Their Faces



With Hands Free, cashiers will verify a shopper’s identity by their initials and photo

A new Google payment method, currently being piloted in the San Francisco Bay Area, allows people to pay for items without reaching for their wallets or their phones, in some cases by using cameras that scan their faces and match them with a profile photo.

According to a post on the Google Commerce blog, the new Hands Free payment method works—or is intended to work—like this: Customers who install the Hands Free app on their phone fill out a profile with their photo. When they get to a cashier, they declare, “I’ll pay with Google.” Using Bluetooth and WiFi, the cashier receives information from the app and then verifies the person’s identity by their spoken initials and profile photo. And voilà—the transaction is completed, without the customers having to remove anything from their pockets.

The company is also running “very early experiments” that will use an in-store camera to verify the customer’s identity based on the Hands Free profile photo. If consumers want to pay for something, all they will need is a phone with the Hands Free app on it and their face.

All this raises certain privacy concerns, which the company was quick to address: “Images and data from the Hands Free in-store camera are deleted immediately, can’t be accessed by the store, and are not sent to or saved to Google servers.”

Hands Free is currently being tested in select McDonald’s, Papa John’s, and other restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.

JCK News Director