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Biometric Payments Are Replacing Cash and Card at Grocery Stores

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: June 8, 2022
Biometric facial recognition payments are replacing cash and card at grocery stores, thanks to a Mastercard initiative piloting first in Brazil.
A demonstration of a facial recognition payment system at a self-checkout in a Perekrestok supermarket in Moscow on March 9, 2021. Mastercard has begun the official pilot rollout of a “Biometric Checkout Program” that is set to replace cash and card payments. (Image: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

The move to eliminate cash and card payments in favor of biometric facial recognition is now formally underway, based on a new program rolled out by Mastercard. 

On May 17, Mastercard announced its Biometric Checkout Program in a press release casting the scheme in a flowery light: With a Smile or a Wave, Paying In Store Just Got Personal.

“No more fumbling for your phone or hunting for your wallet when you have your hands full – the next generation of in-person payments will only need a quick smile or wave of your hand,” the missive glows.

The Release describes the Program as a “technology framework” that will “help establish standards for new ways to pay at stores of all sizes, from major retailers to mom-and-pop shops.”

A promotional graphic inside the Press Release claims that “COVID-19 has accelerated consumers’ desire for a safe and quick touchless checkout.”

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Consumers who shop at stores utilizing the Program will be offered the “option” to “conveniently enroll into their biometric checkout services, in store or at home, through a merchant or identity provider app,” the promotional piece states.

The change from more traditional human commerce towards technocracy is great, Mastercard trumpets, because “there is no need” for consumers “to slow down the checkout queue searching through their pockets or bag.”

It also lauds “greater hygiene and heightened security” as benefits for merchants.

“Consumers can simply check the bill and smile into a camera or wave their hand over a reader to pay,” they continue.

Additionally, Mastercard says it is working with the following providers to “ensure the launch and scale of these types of new checkout capability around the globe”:

  • NEC
  • Payface
  • Aurus
  • PaybyFace
  • PopID
  • Fujitsu Limited

It is noteworthy that this dose of corporate messaging is not the usual forward-looking technological propaganda that would only be distributed in a utopian scenario in the faraway future.

Mastercard stated that a trial run in Brazil would begin the same week using Payface at the St Marche grocery chain in Sao Paulo. 

“Consumers visiting these supermarkets are able to enroll their face and payment information through the Payface app, and once registered, they can simply smile to pay at the checkout without a card or mobile device,” the presser gloats. 

Eládio Isoppo, Payface Chief Executive Officer used similar verbiage as Mastercard in an interview with Biometric Update for a same day article, claiming his company seeks to “create a more convenient and agile process of check out on physical stores.”

In the process, Isoppo made it unambiguous that the purpose of the initiative was to have biometric payment systems replace cash and card payments, “In this sense, the best response we can get from customers is to have their recurrent usage, opting to use payface every time they make a purchase on a partner after they have joined.”

The article noted that Mastercard, however, actually lags behind Communist China in the biometric payment field.

Mainland China’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay have transitioned to the technology — and the regime’s technocratic social credit system that comes with it — for at least five years.