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Moscow Metro Eyes Pay-by-Face Tech in Spring 2021

No metro system in the world has deployed the face-pay system at scale yet, Moscow officials say. Sergei Malgavko / TASS

The Moscow Metro is expected to roll out what City Hall says will be the world’s first fare payment system based on facial recognition starting next spring.

Moscow's Deputy Mayor in charge of transportation Maxim Liksutov said in a weekly column Friday that Muscovites are “no longer impressed” by the ever-expanding contactless options for paying one's fare, including bank cards and smartphones.

“The metro is moving to a new level: Face Pay,” Liksutov wrote. “We’re actively setting it up and testing it, and will try to equip at least one turnstile with this function at every metro station next spring.”

He noted that no metro system in the world has deployed the face-pay system at scale yet and the Russian capital has “every chance” to get there first. 

“Imagine the turnstile opening its doors in front of you,” Liksutov said, describing how the system would work.

“Sounds a bit fantastic, but this is our immediate future.” 

Facial recognition technology will also be deployed as a surveillance tool in addition to being used to boost convenience for passengers. The Moscow Metro reportedly plans to place around 12,300 facial recognition cameras in around 1,500 subway cars by the end of 2020.

Authorities in the Russian capital have already deployed facial recognition technology across a network of almost 200,000 surveillance cameras throughout the city to identify criminal suspects.

In July, China’s southwestern city of Guiyang rolled out face-scanning payment at its subway and bus systems via a smartphone app.

In August, a Los Angeles company introduced the first facial recognition payment in the United States at restaurants outside its headquarters.

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