PayPal tests mobile payments using your face for verification

A new trial in the U.K. lets people pay for items using the PayPal app, a mobile phone, and a photo to prove their identity.

YouTube/Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

PayPal is rolling out a new trial for British consumers to see if they really can leave their wallets at home.

Recently kicking off in London borough Richmond upon Thames, the test includes 12 different merchants set up to accept PayPal payments, according to the company.

Using the PayPal app for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, shoppers can see nearby participating merchants highlighted on their mobile phones. They can then "check into" a certain store by clicking on its name and pay for an item by sliding an animated pin down the screen. The person's name and photo then pops up on the store's payment system. After the customer agrees to pay for the item, the cashier clicks on the person's photo to send the payment through.

The customer receives an alert via phone with the amount paid along with PayPal's usual receipt.

Merchants who've joined the test program include Cook & Garcia, The Farmery, The Tea Box, The Bingham Hotel, Revolution, Caffé Paolo, The Cedar Coffee Shop, Urban Diner, Pier 1 Fish and Chips, Noble Jones, Hill Café, and Knot Coffee and Pretzel.

"We've been using PayPal's check-in service within the business for several months, and have found it really efficient," Cook & Garcia owner Richard Garcia said in a statement. "Customers don't have to worry about having cards, cash or change, just their phones -- it is the quickest transaction through the till, which means less queues and we never have to turn down a sale, both of which are great for business."

Though only a dozen retailers are part of the test, PayPal expects that more than 2,000 merchants will be able to accept the PayPal payments by the end of 2013, according to Sky News. And PayPal has grander ambitions beyond this year.

"This is another step on the journey towards a wallet-less high street, where customers will be able to leave their wallet or purse at home and pay using their phone or tablet," Rob Harper, PayPal head of retail services, said in a statement. "We predict that by 2016 this will become a reality."

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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