Hypermarkets chain Carrefour, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the UAE and Dubai-based payment processor Network International have rolled out a new technology that lets UAE shoppers make payments with just their face at the checkout counter. 

The two firms on Friday launched their face recognition payment scheme, a first in the UAE, enabling checkout points at Carrefour Deira and Amsaf Mall in Jumeirah to accept payments using Face Pay.

PopID, the gateway for verifying an individual's identity based on face for applications such as loyalty, payment, and entry has developed Face Pay.

Shoppers who sign up for Face Pay will only need to show their face at the counter and walk out. No card, cash or phone will be required to complete any transaction. 

“[Consumers can now] purchase products at Carrefour by smiling at a payment terminal instead of pulling out a phone or card,” according to a statement. 

Mass adoption 

While the new biometrics-enabled payment terminals are still being piloted at select stores, the payment scheme will soon be rolled out across the UAE. 

“This solution is based on proprietary facial recognition technology developed by PopID and provisioned through Network International acceptance network for mass adoption across the UAE,” the statement said. 

The new technology aims to make store checkouts quick, convenient, and seamless, according to Andrew Key, Group Managing Director – Acquiring at Network International. 

“[This is] the UAE’s first-of-its-kind face verification platform. [It] aims to make checkouts quick, convenient and seamless for a superior customer experience, and secure businesses from potential fraud,” Key said. 

Shoppers can avail themselves of the service through Carrefour’s mobile app or website. 

Shift from cash 

Face Pay is the latest to hit the UAE’s retail scene, as a growing number of consumers opt for cashless payments. This year, most transactions (69%) in the Middle East are expected to be cashless, according to MENA Fintech Association. 

A separate MasterCard report has ranked the UAE economy among those markets that are “most rapidly” moving away from cash-based payments. MasterCard noted that between 2006 and 2011 alone, there was a “substantial shift” whereby consumers moved from cash to debit cards.  

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria )