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03/15/2021

Global Food Retailer All In on Facial Recognition for Its Frictionless Future

Expansion of innovative payment method could reach 3K locations
Mike Troy
Editorial Director, Grocery Group
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Russian retailer X5 expanding facial recognition
Russian retailer X5 may have as many as 3,000 self-checkout installations with facial recognition technology, shown above, installed by year end.

One major global retailer believes that by year end as many as 3,000 of its stores will be equipped with a new type of contactless biometric technology that allows shoppers to pay with a simple glance.

The retailer in question, Russia’s X5, is little known in the United States, but in its home country it would be the equivalent of Walmart or Kroger when it comes to market dominance. With nearly 18,000 stores generating annual sales of roughly $30 billion, X5 is also something of an early adopter and global trendsetter when it comes to technology. That’s why it’s worth paying attention to a new friction elimination initiative that involves facial recognition, or what X5 calls contactless biometrics.

“This is a fast, convenient and secure technology of the future, and we are among the first to be introducing it in Russia and worldwide,” according to X5 CEO Igor Shekhterman. “I’m convinced that contactless biometric payment solutions will very soon be used universally, and this payment method will become as customary as paying with a bank card or a smartphone.”

The company began rolling out the technology to its supermarket concept branded as Perekrestok and more recently installed the technology at convenience stores, or proximity stores, as they are known in Russia. In roughly 150 locations currently, the company said the exact schedule for further scaling and implementation will depend on the results of this first stage of the project, but indicated the facial recognition payment technology could be expanded to 3,000 stores by the end of 2021.

The basic solutions uses a 3D camera with a high detection accuracy and depth capture to aid in the recognition of facial features and takes into account a person’s height and changes in appearance. High resolution cameras ensure security and prevents spoofing, according to X5. To use, shoppers using a self-checkout lane scan their purchases, select pay with a glance as the payment method, and then look briefly at a camera integrated into the checkstand.

The option is currently only available to shoppers who are customers of Russian state-owned bank, Sber, who along with Visa, partnered with X5 to launch the pay with a glance initiative.