SnapPay: pay with your 'money maker'
Today, Toronto FinTech firm SnapPay announced the launch of new payment authentication technology using facial recognition. The solution was made available to North American merchants as part of an initiative to further increase levels of convenience for retail customers.
SnapPay demonstrated the technology today at the Retail Council of Canada’s Retail West Show, at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, and will do so again at next week’s Grocery Innovations Canada (GIC) show in Toronto.
“Facial recognition technology is an increasingly popular method of payment among global consumers,” said Spencer Xu, CEO and founder of SnapPay. “By enabling consumers to pay with their ‘face’, North American merchants, particularly those with self-service kiosks, are providing an unprecedented level of convenience and speed in the checkout process, to a lucrative customer segment that increasingly demands it.”
The facial recognition technology powering SnapPay’s app has been bought from “Asia”, and can successfully trigger and complete the payment transaction with a simple 3-D snapshot of the user’s face, as allowing merchants to make opting into things like loyalty programs easier.
Juniper Research forecasts that mobile biometrics will authenticate $2trn worth of in-store and remote mobile payments transactions a year by 2023, driven by over 2,500% growth.Alongside this explosion of financial potential, the facial recognition market is projected to double to $9bn between 2018 and 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence, a consulting and advisory firm.
“Retailers in Canada are eager to explore technologies that will help improve the retail experience for their customers. SnapPay is a very interesting new player offering new solutions in the Canadian payments ecosystem. We’re looking forward to being first to see this new technology in use at Retail West,” said Mary Markou, Senior Director, Sponsorship Retail Council of Canada.
The trend of ‘paying with your face’ has been growing dramatically in China and other Asian market over the past few years, driven largely by Alipay, the financial division of Alibaba, which has championed mass adoption of the technology.
“I don’t even have to bring a mobile phone with me, I can go out and do shopping without taking anything,” Bo Hu, CIO of Wedome bakery, which uses facial payment machines across hundreds of stores, said in an interview with the Guardian last month.
“This was not possible either at the earliest stage of mobile payment – only after the birth of facial recognition technology can we complete the payment without anything else,” he continued.
Whether this adoption proves successful in the North American market - where distrust of biometric recognition devices is higher than elsewhere - remains to be seen.
Start-ups receive $60 billion investment, smash 2020 record
Start-ups on the continent have raised a massive 43.8 billion euros ($60.9 billion) in just the first six months of 2021, according to figures from Dealroom, surpassing the record 38.5 billion euros invested last year..
This is despite the fact that the number of venture deals signed so far is around half the amount agreed in 2020. Only about 2,700 funding rounds have been raised so far this year, compared to 5,200 last year.
Prime examples in times of change
Examples are Swedish buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna which has raised more than $1.6 billion in two financing rounds, the German stock trading app Trade Republic received $900 million in May and British payments provider Checkout.com snapped up $450 million at the start of the year.
The figures suggest that European tech firms are pulling in far larger sums of money per investment than in previous years, which defies the economic uncertainty of the pandemic and boosted online services enormously.
The CEO of Checkout.com, Guillaume Pousaz, said start-ups have often been created in times of crisis, citing the emergence of several new financial technology companies in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
He added that big transformational change was often the time when there is the emergence of a lot of new start-ups, sometimes when people are losing their jobs for associated reasons.
UK leading the charge
Scale-Up Europe, a group that includes the founders of UiPath and Wise, proposed 21 recommendations to help the region build “the next generation of tech giants.” Among the suggestions are tax credits to corporates for investing in start-ups and regulatory changes that adapt to new innovations.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna, said the U.K. leads Europe when it comes to tech policy, and that there were a number of regulatory issues needing to be addressed before the European Union can produce tech giants of its own.
Siemiatkowski highlighted EU regulation of web cookies as an example of “poor regulation.” Yet, as the number of $1 billion start-ups in Europe continues to grow, the number of exits in the continent is also increasing.
This year has already seen some notable acquisitions, including Etsy’s $1.6 billion purchase of U.K. fashion resale app Depop and JPMorgan’s takeover of London robo-advisor Nutmeg.
As for stock market listings, a number of notable debuts have taken place in London in particular, including food delivery app Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace and reviews site Trustpilot. Money transfer giant Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to go public in the U.K. capital soon.