UK supermarkets try face-based ID and payment system

  • Published
Facial recognition at tillImage source, Yoti

A new facial recognition app from British start-up Yoti could be trialled in two supermarkets, following a deal with self-service till maker NCR.

It would enable shops to check the age of customers buying restricted products such as alcohol and knives, without human intervention.

The free-to-consumer app works by pairing a selfie with an official document such as a passport.

The data is encrypted, and Yoti says that it has no access to it.

Facial fraud

In a statement, Yoti said two UK supermarkets had won approval to try the ID system in 2018.

People enrol in the app by:

  • taking a selfie with an Android or Apple smartphone
  • verifying their phone number
  • taking a test to prove they are who they say they are

The selfie is then linked via the app with a photo-ID document such as a driving licence or passport.

Those with chips on their passports holding their ID information can scan these to add veracity to the data being held.

Yoti staff also verify the documents and that the selfie and photo on the passport or licence match.

When people come to use the app, the information stored with Yoti is used to verify a person's identity.

Robin Tombs, co-founder and head of Yoti, said the technology could be used to confirm identities in other places such as pubs, nightclubs and on dating sites.

Also, he said, it could be used to protect against ID fraud.

"It's too easy for people to pretend they're someone else, or gain access to all of our personal details," he said in a statement.

"This is shown by the continued rise of identity related fraud and issues that cost time, money and inconvenience to many people every day."