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Privacy Fears as Moscow Metro Rolls Out Facial Recognition Pay System

Campaigners say Face Pay, launched in over 240 stations, is ‘dangerous step’ in efforts to control population

The Moscow metro has rolled out what authorities have lauded as the world’s first mass-scale facial recognition payment system, amid privacy concerns over the new technology.

The cashless, cardless and phoneless system, named Face Pay, launched at more than 240 stations across the Russian capital on Friday.

“Now all the passengers will be able to pay for travel without taking out their phone, metro or bank card,” the Moscow mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, tweeted on Thursday evening.

To activate Face Pay, Sobyanin said, passengers will need to connect their photo, bank card and metro card to the service through the metro’s mobile app. “It will be enough just to look at the camera to pass through the turnstiles,” Sobyanin said.

The Moscow authorities, who expect up to 15% of metro passengers will use Face Pay regularly in the next three years, said the system would quicken the flow of people, particularly at busy times.