Facial-recognition to be implemented in Canadian stores

PHOTO CREDIT: Sheila Scarborough

  Facial recognition technologies may start hitting the Canadian stores beginning early next year as supermarket chain owners plan to bring Chinese technology to Northern America. A southern Ontario supermarket chain and one in south British Columbia patronized by Chinese communities in the area are planning to install the latest facial recognition technology.

  Facial recognition systems feature cutting-edge technology that is capable of verifying and identifying a person based on the digital image and a video source or frame. The technology works by comparing a particular facial feature from a specific photo with the collected faces inside a database.

  Canada’s gaming industry is implementing facial scan to avoid fraud and identity theft. Last year the government passed the bill according to which the iGaming platforms and betting operators were allowed to implement the facial recognition technology. The technology is applied to the top online casino platforms in order to prevent identity theft and stealing of an account. 

  In 2019 facial scan technologies were the main trend for the online casinos. A lot of people were concerned about the privacy issues that accompany the facial recognition technologies. Especially considering that one of the main facial recognition technology developers that Canadian police get their service from is based outside Canada, in the United States. The accuracy of the face scan has also been debated. On the other hand, a lot of gamers feel safer and think that their accounts are protected better this way. 

  The users of iGaming platforms are afraid not only of losing their files, documents, and account credentials but also their money. Canada is actively supporting fintech, digitalization of the conventional industries, and the new digital economy. Canada was also one of the first countries to implement facial recognition technologies. Other countries with booming digital markets have followed the example of Canada. For instance, China started using facial recognition technologies in October. Australia used Canada as a model for the adoption. 

  Facial recognition technology was initially for computer applications but has seen broader practices like in mobile platforms and robotics.

  Wei Chenyi, Foody Mart chain owner and permanent honorary Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations chairman, said that he’s looking towards leveraging on the Chinese technology. Wei met the Chinese President during an event held in Beijing and is a rumored longtime friend of the government in China.

  Wei said that he is considering using facial recognition technology in his chain of supermarkets early next year. According to him, this modern technology from China will allow customers to purchase from their stores using facial recognition.

  The payment system with facial recognition technology that Wei is proposing will capture the photo of the customer's face, one linked to their account. Once approved, they can make purchases without having to use cash, a credit card, or mobile banking through their phones.

  Wei is planning to purchase the payment system from a firm based in Toronto, SnapPay. The company delivers Chinese payment solutions from technology behemoths such as Alibaba and Tencent. If Wei's plans came to fruition, it would mark the first-ever use of facial recognition in stores all over North America.

  SnapPay also commented about the purchase recently, saying that they pose to deliver the payment system to the grocery chain by early 2021. Wei said in an interview that if a system is useful in the market, his company will purchase and use it. He stated that they would follow as society moved a step forward.

  In China, there are currently about two million surveillance cameras that feature facial recognition. It is a standard system used in school and zoo entrance in the country as well as to track social habits for creating social credit scores.

  Meanwhile, China’s Toronto Association for Democracy chairman, Cheuk Kwan, said that facial recognition technology is a new way for the country to invade society. He said that Canada should take a more vigorous skepticism towards any move that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to start. Cheuk noted that these moves from the CCP might be in the guise as business innovation or a high-tech investment.

  A lot of concerns about this technology are also coming out, especially from privacy advocates. A former Ontario privacy watchdog and currently a Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, Anna Couvoukian, expressed that all Chinese tech may have an ulterior motive. She said that all the data gathered from these facial recognition technologies might only end up with the hands of the Chinese.