Iniqul lets users pay for things with just a nod of their head.

Other ways to pay with your identity? France recently completed a trial where supermarkets could skip credit cards and instead authenticate their ID by having their fingerprint scanned.

And in Russia, checkout counters are reading customers' facial expressions.

Forget Credit Cards. In Finland, You Can Pay With Your Face

PIN codes, fingerprints, NFC... all these technologies sound passé when you learn about Uniqul's plans.

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.

Forget fingerprints, forget Square, forget emotion-sensing pay terminals, forget voice IDs... this is the tech we want. How about you?

[Image: By Flickr user epSos .de]

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  • Vimal

    While wandering around the shop, a fraudulent cashier can easily 'scan' your face and click OK to confirm a transaction which you have not approved! How do you protect yourself against this kind of fraud?


    Classic case of a tech writer having no idea, and not even mentioning the privacy implications.

    In the UK, we have a phrase; the Finnish will soon learn it well.

    'If the face doesn't fit'.

    Welcome to welcoming in your own Government tyranny; a cashless society, where if ...

    Your face doesn't fit ... 

    You starve. :) 

  • M Creanga

    "the system stores your ID centrally along with details of your payment method". How does this deal with multiple payment methods? Credit card vs Debit card and what about accessing your savings account via your debit card? I wouldn't want some sales person to have access to all that information. Does the sales person see my account number, balance and any other information?

  • Việt Linh

    It means that when you register your face with your bank accounts with order. For example, you choose Bank 1 as default payment hub and Bank 2 as secondary payment hub. When you pay by Uniqul, the money will be deducted from Bank 1 but if Bank 1 does not have enough money, it will switch to Bank 2. 

  • Keith Brings

    Sucks if you happen to have a few identical twins running around with the same face.

  • kp C

    Not far away from Orwells predictions..
    Few years goes by and all you need is a micro-chip, that's the ultimate goal and the final ladder for human beings.

  • Adreana Langston

    $6.99 per month because I'm too lazy to reach into my purse/pocket and get my debit card? Uhm, no.

  • Linh Dang

    The first thing is you can choose to pay €2/month to get to local shops. The pricey ones are for those travel commonly. Secondly, you don't need to worry to find your wallet or afraid of pickpockets, robbers anymore. And also think about one day you go to the beach, swim then pay a BigMac with your face without any plastic cards. 

  • Jenny M

    I'm not surprised to see payment innovation come out of Finland. Finns were paying for trolley tickets and vending machine items with their cell phones in 1997, something we he've only dabbled in in the U.S. 16 years later. 

  • Sara Clayton

    Has anyone tried using Uniqul's system with a mask of someone else's face? What if, though unlikely, someone had plastic surgery to look nearly identical to a wealthy person?

  • Oscar Tuutti

    We at Uniqul have security measures in place to stop payment fraud in its first steps.
    We have been able to differentiate between identical twins in our database tests, which means that a nearly identical surgery would, at its "best", stop at a PIN request when the algorithm can't make a match between the registered face and the fraudster.

  • Oscar Tuutti

    The system can detect when someone is trying to use pictures or 3D models.

  • Pauly

    What about if you're in a shop with other people and it recognises the person's face behind you? You could sneakily click 'ok' and have them pay for your stuff.

  • Oscar Tuutti

    You need to be at a specific distance from the camera to be able to pay. The system also has a queue of sorts. Additionally, the cashier monitors the payment process.