Paying with your fac? It is now possible in these Russian supermarkets

 Sylvie Claire / Mars 10, 2021

Russia's X5, the country's largest retail group, announced Wednesday the launch of facial recognition payments, the latest example of the rapid, and for some controversial, development of this technology in Russia.


The X5 group, which includes the ubiquitous supermarket chains Perekrestok and Pyaterochka, has teamed up with the Visa payment system and Sberbank, Russia's leading bank and state-owned institution, which is now transforming into a digital giant. The number of supermarkets connected to the system should be increased from 52 this week to 150 by the end of March, said Ivan Melnik, director of innovation at X5 in an interview with AFP.


After April the rollout will be faster. By the end of 2021, the service will be available on 12,000 to 14,000 devices in a total of 3,000 stores across Russia, he told AFP


In a Moscow supermarket on Tuesday, the service seemed to win over several young customers, but was met with more suspicion by older people. It's great because the 21st century is the age of technology, said Andrei Epifanov, 28, an employee of the private bank Alfa Bank. For older people, of course, it's new and can lead to a lack of trust he concedes, but I think this idea is very cool.


Just push a button and pay with your face


This service is available for the time being at the self-service checkouts of the supermarkets concerned and for Sberbank customers only. It's convenient, you don't have to carry your wallet or take your phone out of your pocket, you just press a button and pay with your face, says Melnik


It also assures that these transactions are safe, secure, encrypte , and identity theft attempts are excluded thanks to a 3D camera that measures the depth of the face.


Facial recognition is developing rapidly in Russia. Since the start of the pandemic, the technology has been used by the city of Moscow - and its tens of thousands of surveillance cameras - to monitor compliance with containment and quarantines. Last year, the digital liberties association Roskomsvoboda launched a campaign and a petition against the massive use of facial recognition by the authorities, pointing to abuses, data leaks and a lack of consent.

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