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Pay-by-Face! PayPal’s ‘check in’ arrives on the British high street

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The much vaunted – and somewhat Alan Partridge-esque – ‘pay-by-face’ technology that allows PayPal users to use their PayPal account to make payments in shops using their face as authentication has arrived in the UK – well in the leafy, well-to-do London suburb of Richmond-upon-Thames, where PayPal has an office.

In a first for the UK, consumers can now make payments on their mobile phone and be recognised by their first name and picture. A dozen businesses in the high street, including cafes, restaurants, shops, a hotel and even a fish and chip shop are now embracing cutting edge technology to allow their customers to pay with PayPal – while giving a more personal service.

The Richmond trial comes with the PayPal app for iOS, Windows OS and Android phones, which let customers check in to pay. The app highlights nearby shops and restaurants that accept PayPal; the customer then checks in to the shop by clicking on the retailer and pays by simply sliding a pin down in the app. Once a customer has checked in, their name and photo appears on the shop’s payment system, and once the customer agrees the amount to be paid, the cashier charges them by clicking on this image. The customer gets an alert on their phone to let them know how much they’ve paid, as well as PayPal’s usual email receipt.

The Richmond check in pioneers include Cook & Garcia, The Farmery, The Tea Box, The Bingham Hotel, Revolution, Caffé Paolo, The Cedar Coffee Shop, Urban Diner, Pier 1 Fish and Chips, Noble Jones, Hill Café and Knot Coffee and Pretzel.

Richard Garcia, owner and proprietor of Cook and Garcia café on The Quadrant opposite Richmond station, explains: “We’ve been using PayPal’s check in service within the business for several months, and have found it really efficient. Customers don’t have to worry about having cards, cash or change, just their phones – it is the quickest transaction through the till, which means less queues and we never have to turn down a sale, both of which are great for business”

Ismail Ahmed, the co-founder of The Farmery frozen yogurt store, also on The Quadrant in Richmond, adds: “Using check in on PayPal’s app is easy. Lots of our customers have a mobile phone, and are familiar with using apps on their phones. What’s better is that we didn’t even have to change anything about the way we run our business – we’re still using the same tills and system, including iPads and iPhones to operate the technology. All the customer has to do is check in on their phone, we see them on our system and we can just charge them – they can even check in before they get to the shop for their frozen yoghurt, saving even more time.”

Rob Harper, Head of Retail Services at PayPal, puts the payment providers point of view: “PayPal first brought ‘pay by mobile’ to the UK high street two years ago. Through our Richmond initiative, we’re pleased to help local businesses of all sizes offer a new more personal experience, while never having to turn away customers who don’t have enough cash on them to pay. Now locals in Richmond can leave their wallet or purse at home and be the first in the country to use their profile picture to pay.

“This is another step on the journey towards a wallet-less high street, where customers will be able to leave their wallet or purse at home and pay using their phone or tablet. We predict that by 2016 this will become a reality.” Rob adds, “Our Richmond initiative shows that innovation is alive and well on the British high street.”

See it in action here

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