The start-up wants to disrupt the wallet market
Finnish start-up Uniqul has launched what it calls the first ever payment platform based on face recognition. The system doesn’t require a wallet, card or mobile phone – paying is as easy as giving the camera a nod and pressing ‘OK’ on a point-of-sale tablet.
Uniqul claims its patent pending technology drastically cuts down the time it takes to make a payment, and is protected by “military grade algorithms”.
The registration of customer accounts has been open, but the terminals themselves will first appear in the Helsinki area.
Uniqul was founded in February 2013 in Helsinki, with a mission to develop “the world’s fastest payment system”. To pay for their shopping or services, customers previously registered with Uniqul have to simply stand next to the terminal, look into the camera and press ‘OK’.
“In the background our algorithms are processing your biometrical data to find your account in our database as you are approaching the cashier. The whole transaction will be done in less than 5 seconds – the time it usually takes you to pull out your wallet”, explains a press release from the company.
Customers can use all major credit cards or even a PayPal or Square account when registering for a Uniqul account.
The service offers an unusual pricing model: individual users will pay a monthly subscription fee which will depend on the area where the account will be valid. For example, €0.99 a month will unlock the service in a 1-2 km radius from a chosen point, while €1.99 will cover a specific city.
The third level, which costs €2.99 a month, will cover a city and nearby suburbs. According to the start-up, it is “ideal for commuters who want the shopping convenience of Uniqul both when grocery shopping close to home and when buying lunch at work”. The final €6.99 subscription fee is targeted towards frequent travellers who want “total freedom from their wallet”.
On the merchant side, the basic Uniqul service is likely to be free. It is primarily targeted at SMBs and the hospitality sector and will enable them to offer targeted incentives through the specialised merchant platform which is set to launch in autumn.
Meanwhile, PayPal has recently launched PayPal Galactic – a research project which aims to test the viability of electronic payments in space, and tackle technical challenges associated with long-distance wireless connectivity.
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