Move over Fingerprints, Facial Recognition Coming to American Express

Experimenting with emerging technology, AMEX is working on integrating facial recognition for mobile payments and financial services.

Apple and Samsung have brought fingerprint recognition software to the forefront of the payment industry with ID features integrated in their new phones. Now American Express (AMEX) is looking to take it a step forward with facial recognition. According to a story from the Wall Street Journal, American Express Labs are experimenting with wearable and facial recognition technology for payments and other financial services.

For AMEX, the foray into emerging technology is nothing new for the financial services giant. Moving its marketing campaigns online, AMEX was an early adopter of content-based marketing and digital advertising to broaden its image and court new customers. With regard to financial technology, AMEX partnered with Walmart to create Bluebird, an online and mobile-based bank with connected credit card payment system.

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The experiment in facial technology is part of AMEX’s labs, which is tasked with analyzing ways to integrate technology within the company’s existing business as well as discovering new product areas. According to David Baldie, director of technical delivery at American Express Enterprise Growth, who was interviewed in the WSJ report, facial recognition is being tested by AMEX to discover how facial images can be captured as well as authenticated on a mobile device. In terms of barriers, Baldie explained that the technology needed to include a front-end interface that could easily guide users on how to correctly capture a facial image, as well as quickly send it to a server to be matched and authenticated.

Not yet ready for an imminent launch to customers, the technology is advanced far enough for it to be demonstrated internally, with the next step being a full review, including risk and security analysis before a decision is made on public deployment.

While AMEX is experimenting on facial recognition for payments, the technology is already being deployed by banks and brokers to help with the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) process to onboard new accounts. Among products on the market is a mobile authentication app from Jumio. The available product allows users to scan their ID such as passports or a driver’s license from a mobile device, while also taking a facial image capture to authenticate the user to the ID.

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