Commuters to pay for train fare with their face in China: Report

The South China Morning Post has reported that the Shenzhen Metro is currently trialling the use of payment via facial recognition technology.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Those catching a train in Shenzhen may soon be able to pay for their fare through facial recognition, with a trial of the technology reportedly under way.

It is one of the various technologies backed by the ultra-fast 5G network being tested by the local Shenzhen subway operator, according to the South China Morning Post.

The initiative under way at Futian Station sees commuters scan their faces on a tablet-sized screen mounted on the entrance gate. The fare is then automatically deducted from a linked account.

According to the report, there are currently 5 million rides per day on the city's network.

Shenzhen Metro did not elaborate on when it would roll out the facial payment service, the report said.

The initiative forms part of an ambitious country-wide rollout of facial recognition systems, with Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport in October unveiling self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance, and boarding powered by facial recognition technology.

Similar efforts are also under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China's Henan province.

China is not the only Asia-Pacific country introducing biometric capabilities at airports. It was announced over in Japan during November that passengers travelling through Narita International Airport would soon be able to clear customs using their face instead of physical identification documents, thanks to a facial recognition trial scheduled to begin at Terminal 3 from next month.

The initiative was followed in January by the Japanese government introducing a new departure tax on passengers leaving the country by sea or air, with the proceeds to be used to fund the facial recognition systems in place at airports.

The 1,000-yen tax will be charged on plane and ship tickets, and will affect both Japanese citizens and foreigners over two years old, or those who are in transit with stays exceeding 24 hours.

The government expects to collect around 50 billion yen this year with the tax.

The money collected will be allocated for facial recognition systems at airports that have been touted as expediting immigration procedures and providing greater assistance in foreign languages for those who visit the country.

Some passengers travelling internationally from Australia via Qantas have also been trialling biometric technology at Sydney Airport since July, with the first stage using facial recognition to allow passengers to complete an automated flight check-in and bag drop, gain access to the lounge, and board the plane itself.

Additional steps proposed for future trials include mobile check-in and automated border processing, which will allow passengers to use their faces as their access identification.


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