Moscow starts paying via facial recognition at metro

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Moscow residents can now pay via a facial scan if they want to use the metro in the city. They need to link a photo, bank account and metro subscription for Face Pay via the mobile app.

Face Pay has been activated at more than 240 metro stations in Moscow, The Guardian reports, citing reports from The mayor of the Russian city, Sergey Sobyanin, welcomed the technology on Thursday, saying: “All passengers can now pay for their journey without having to bring their phone or metro or bank card.”

Once users have connected their photo, bill and metro card to the service, they only need to look into the camera at the stations to be allowed to continue through the gates. According to the authorities, the system will, among other things, improve the flow of passengers. The Moscow metro has more than six million users every day. Within three years, 15 percent of users will pay via Face Pay, the authorities hope.

According to the Kremlin, the data is encrypted and processed in data centers that only internal ministry employees have access to. The Guardian quotes the founder of civil rights organization Roskomsvoboda, Stanislav Shakirov, as being critical and warning that the data could end up with security services. According to him, Russia is moving towards authoritarian countries such as China, where facial recognition has been further developed. Moscow is already applying real-time facial recognition to security cameras in the city.

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