Can consumers benefit from facial recognition technology?

Applications of facial recognition technology ‘in the wild' are still fairly new to us, but enterprising organizations – from Apple to airlines – have quickly found ways to use it for more seamless interactions and added layers of security.

With a market value of US$3.2 billion in 2019 and a growth projection to US$7 billion by 2024, enterprises are increasingly looking to the value of facial recognition as a component in their products and services – particularly as are beginning to accept it for its convenience.

Facial recognition is essentially a biometric technology that helps to identify and verify people by scanning and analyzing their faces. The identification is done when the technology compares the scanned faces from either videos, images and scans to the ones stored in its database.

Across Asia, the technology has proven to be strategic in helping businesses speed up their services and offer better products, namely by improving complicated security processes, elevating customer experience, and authorizing contactless payments.

Substituting tickets and keys

In the transportation and aviation industries, for example, facial recognition is being used to replace conventional ticketing systems and repetitive security touchpoints.

If customers choose to use the technology, they may no longer have to buy and print tickets and can navigate an airport from ‘kerb to gangway', without repeatedly pulling out their documents.

One example is Malaysia's KLIA which has deployed a ‘single token' journey system using facial recognition technology. Passengers' faces, travel documents, and journey information are stored digitally in the form of a token which can be used to access any other services at the airport.

This also means verification and security checkpoint processes can be sped up for a more seamless traveling experience.

The same systems are also being used to replace keycards in hotels, high-end apartments or other paid-entry venues. This would not only help improve security and safety in cases of forced entries, but it will also save visitors and tenants from the constant hassle of carrying their keys.

Personalizing customer experience

In the world of marketing, facial recognition can provide itself as an innovative new tool for businesses looking to delight and connect with consumers. Smart advertising, for one, has reflected the strategic use of facial recognition as it can help deliver targeted ads more accurately based on age and gender guess.

Facial recognition has also been used by cosmetic companies to help customers choose the best products that match their features and skin tone. This results in a personalized shopping experience where product recommendations can also be offered based on skin condition and face structure.

In stores, facial recognition can detect the face of customers, analyze their paths in the premise so far and market recommendations or show useful information about the products they are looking at. Not only that, in the ‘cashless stores', facial recognition can help track customers' cart items to ease checkout processes later on.

Paying securely

Facial recognition is also being used to authorize contactless payments and even automate payment processes with just a flash of the face.

Through facial recognition technology, financial crimes can be reduced as physical possessions like cards and cash are no longer in the picture. This would also include quicker and safer access to ATM machines, self-checkout terminals, and banking processes.

Recently, Singapore has leveraged facial recognition in a bid to revolutionize transaction processes between consumers and the government as well as private sectors.

To gain the trust of Singaporeans, the government ensured that consumers' biometric data will not be stored or shared with private organizations. This would further ensure that payments within the country will be highly secure and free of fraud.

Although the use of the technology has been painted negatively by media sometimes due to the fact that more consumer data are being captured and stored, the majority of industry players are focused on ensuring that the technology will them in ways that justify the collected data.

More importantly, the application of facial recognition will significantly improve safe and security in various business settings relieving all parties from financial crime concerns.

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