foody mart facial recognition

Supermarket chain in Toronto might let customers pay using facial recognition

As if taking out your cell phone and tapping it on a machine wasn't already a dangerously easy way to pay for stuff, soon you might actually be able to use your face.

Owner of the Foody Mart grocery chain Wei Chengyi said he's looking into implementing Chinese-made facial recognition devices at stores in both Ontario and B.C., according to the National Post.

Foody Mart currently has six locations in the Toronto area.

The controversial technology is currently experiencing several significant legal challenges in China, as many are questioning the amount of data and personal information being kept on residents.

In order to use facial recognition for payment, a photo is simply taken of the customer's face which is then linked up to that person's account.

And that's it  — no other form of identification or currency are required. 

If Chengyi, who has with close ties to Beijing, succeeds in introducing this in Foody Mart locations, it'll be the first time it's used in any North American store.

According to Yahoo Finance, Foody Mart plans to purchase the facial recognition equipment from a Toronto-based platform called SnapPay.

SnapPay brings international payment methods such as AliPay and WeChat Pay to Canadian retailers.

SnapPay told Yahoo Finance they hope to deliver the first facial payment system to FoodyMart sometime in the beginning of next year.

Chengyi told the National Post that he hopes to bring the technology to his Canadian stores "because society moves forward and [they] will follow it."

But others are concerned about the new payment system. 

Brenda McPhail, director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association specializing in privacy and security, told Yahoo Finance she finds the idea of introducing technology that could result in privacy breaches and hacks from mundane tasks "profoundly troubling."

And Cheuk Kwan of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China told the Post the introduction of this payment method is just another way that China is "encroaching on our society."

"Canada should have strong scepticism on any move initiated from CCP (Chinese Communist Party) influence under the guise of high-tech investment or business innovation," he told the Post in an email.

"It is not about refusing technological advantages, it is about the closure of our data to Chinese control."

In a news release issued last month, CEO and founder of SnapPay Spencer Xu said the new technology is all about convenience and speed.

"Facial recognition technology is an increasingly popular method of payment among global consumers," Xu said.

"By enabling consumers to pay with their ‘face’ North American merchants, particularly those with self-service kiosks, are providing an unprecedented level of convenience and speed in the checkout process, to a lucrative customer segment that increasingly demands it."

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