Innovation That Matters

Mobile payment app verifies identity with a photo


If a picture is worth a thousand words under ordinary circumstances, then surely its value in a banking context would be difficult to overstate. So, indeed, is essentially the thinking behind FaceCash, a new, photo-enhanced mobile payment platform currently undergoing testing at none other than US sandwich chain Subway. The brainchild of California-based Think Computer, FaceCash is a mobile payment system that allows consumers to use their cell phones to make purchases at the point of sale. Users of FaceCash begin by signing up online with a photo and pre-funding their account with money from a traditional checking or savings account. Their FaceCash payment account then gets tied to a unique bar code that can be displayed on a smartphone or self-printed card for making purchases at participating merchant stores. When that bar code is scanned, the merchant is presented with the consumer’s picture for verification. Assuming it’s a match, the transaction proceeds and the consumer’s funds are transferred instantly to the merchant; both sides get an online record of everything bought or sold. Consumers can exchange money with each other this way as well. FaceCash is part of the ThinkLink network, and merchants need only an internet-connected computer and a barcode scanner, optionally available from Think for as little as USD 39.99; to use the service, they pay just 1.5 percent per transaction. For consumers, the free FaceCash application is available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones. Users of other models can access the service through a mobile web browser. Of course, the utility of a service like this depends on merchant acceptance, and currently Subway is testing it out only in select California locations. With the service’s savings potential over traditional credit card fees, however, there’s clearly a strong incentive. Currently, FaceCash is available only in the United States; one to try out on your own tech-savvy shoppers — or to help bring to other parts of the world? (Related: Paying offline for virtual online purchasesCheap & simple credit card processing for every entrepreneurNationwide taxi booking & payment via mobile phoneApp turns iPhone into a credit card terminal.) Spotted by: Murray Orange



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