Uniqul, a Finnish startup, has patented and tested a unique payment system that does away with many security worries about paying for items in a store. In Uniqul's system, your face is your PIN.
The company is going to roll out terminals in the Helsinki area soon. The actual mechanism is as simple as it sounds: To confirm a transaction at point of sale, the user simply has to present their face to the camera, watch for their ID to pop up, then click "OK" on a tablet display to confirm that yes, they actually do want to make a purchase. There's said to be no payment card involved, no wallet, no mobile phone use involved--which implies that the system stores your ID centrally along with details of your payment method. Uniqul says you can register with almost any payment system, from PayPal to traditional cards, and the data is protected by "military grade" encryption.
Designed to improve the security and speed of transactions, the business model of Uniqul may actually be its best innovation. Like Square--which it's a direct threat too--Uniqul is aimed at smaller businesses. It's likely to be free for merchants, while users pay a small stipend to allow transactions within a certain radius of a chosen point, such as their own home. €0.99 a month unlocks terminals in a 1-2 km radius, and €6.99 is the total wallet-free option.
[Image: By Flickr user epSos .de]