NEC has announced that it is conducting trials for cashless payment services utilizing NEC facial recognition technology.

The trials are carried out in cooperation with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking (SMBC) and Sumitomo Mitsui Card (Sumitomo Mitsui Card).

The SMBC trials take place between 12 December 2016 and 30 January 2017, involving approximately 1,000 employees at the dining facilities of SMBC's head office. The Sumitomo Mitsui Card trials take place between November 21, 2016 and January 31, 2017, and involve approximately 400 employees at the company's Tokyo head office.

Biometric authentication makes fraudulent impersonation extremely difficult in comparison with other methods of authentication, and eliminates the need to carry ID cards or other forms of physical ID.

In the payment field, for example, there are high hopes for the development of new biometric technologies that will enable a diverse range of users to experience highly advanced services and payment methods.

The service being tested in these trials utilizes NEC's NeoFace facial recognition engine, which has been recognized as providing the world's highest level of authentication accuracy, to enable identity verification by matching employees' pre-registered facial images against the images taken by cameras installed in the employee dining facilities.

Payment for items purchased is automatically deducted from employees' monthly salaries for the following month.

This facial recognition has the unique characteristic of not requiring the installation of dedicated authentication devices, and offering enhanced security and peace of mind due to the fact that registered facial data is stored in the form of numerical values (making it difficult or impossible for a third party to identify the faces of registered users even in the event that they are able to obtain the data).

In these trials, NEC, SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Card aim to verify the recognition performance, employee receptivity to biometric authentication, and operational aspects of the service, while gaining experience and know-how; with a view to providing safe, secure, convenient cashless (and card-less) payment services utilizing facial recognition technology at branches in the future.

NEC senior vice president Fumiaki Matsubara said: "Along with these trials, NEC is improving the functionality, reliability and convenience of identity verification in a variety of areas.  

"We successfully concluded payment service trials using facial recognition at small shops inside our own head office, and aim to see the commercialization of these services contribute to greater safety and security in communities throughout the world."