PayPal launches facial recognition mobile payment trial

Shoppers in Richmond, West London, are being offered the chance to trial a new PayPal app that will allow them to pay for items using facial recognition technology.

Approximately a dozen Richmond-based retailers are thought to have signed up to the PayPal Check In trial, which will allow customers to pay for goods using their PayPal accounts.

Customers will be able to leave their wallet or purse at home and pay using their phone or tablet.

The app, which works on iOS, Windows and Android devices, flags local shops and restaurants that accept PayPal payments, before asking users to check in. The person's name and photograph is then passed onto the outlet's payment system, and the retailer can then charge them for goods and services by clicking on their image.

To verify the transaction took place, users will receive a notification on their phone, and a receipt will be despatched to the email address linked to their PayPal account.

The company hopes the service will be rolled out to more than 2,000 locations before the end of 2013.

Rob Harper, head of retail services at PayPal, said the trial is a significant step in the development of the "wallet-less" high street.

"Customers will be able to leave their wallet or purse at home and pay using their phone or tablet," said Harper.

"We predict by 2016 this will become a reality," he added.

He claimed the Richmond trial will also enable businesses in the area to provide customers with a more personalised shopping experience.

"Through our Richmond initiative, we're pleased to help local businesses of all sizes offer a new more personal experience, while never having to turn away customers who don't have enough cash on them to pay," he explained.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.