Can facial recognition make it easier to pay tolls and hospital bills?

The world of facial recognition is getting more and more exciting every day — and it seems as though fintech is driving commercial applications.
28 September 2018

Can facial recognition really help pay the toll? Source: Shutterstock

Everyday, there are new ways that technology aims to make life easier for people. Facial recognition, often in the headlines, is one such technology.

Recently, the technology was in the news for helping law enforcement agents better protect stadiums and music concerts and is now slowly making its way into airports, helping border protection agents make entry and exit into America easier and quicker.

However, there are two new avenues that the companies seem to be interested in exploring the use of facial recognition in: at toll counters on bridges and highways and at payment counters in hospitals.

Although the two uses of the technology seem quite different from each other, it’s interesting to note that they’re both payments solutions at their core.

Fintech companies, it seems, will drive the commercial application of this technology as well — in the near future.

Facial recognition and tolls

According to local media, it seems that vehicles using New York’s bridges, tunnels, and roadways will soon be able to make cashless payments facilitated, authorized, and verified by facial recognition.

Currently in beta, a new Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) program is enabling cameras near bridges and tunnels to recognize faces of drivers and passengers as their vehicles approach crossings.

“The system is still in its testing phase at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, and testing at the Queens-Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels had already begun. In later phases, testing will commence at the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone bridges”, an MTA spokesperson told local media.

Although residents are excited, MTA Director of Communications Jon Jon Weinstein insisted that they’re only testing this emerging technology as a way to enhance security at MTA crossings.

He clarified that the project is still in the proof of concept phase and, as such, no data whatsoever is being shared with law enforcement or anyone outside of the people involved with the pilot.

Facial recognition and hospital payments

Far away in China, e-commerce giant Alibaba group’s fintech company Alipay has deployed self-service payment terminals at a local hospital.

First-time users must enter their ID number to create a profile, which will be kept on file on the terminals, said Director of Alipay’s Medical Business Sun Guofeng.

Once users choose to apply for registration or pay bills, the face recognition process starts. After the user is recognized, phone numbers bound with Alipay are needed to complete the process.

The whole process takes no longer than 10 seconds and there is no need to pull out cards or phones since you can complete payment on the machines with one hand.

Although currently deployed in China, the technology has great use in this part of the world. America’s healthcare system is deeply aligned with its insurance industry — and so far, the two don’t readily share data.

Using facial recognition, it could become easier to help patients expedite the insurance process at the hospital and pay for any component of the bill that isn’t covered by insurance.