Paypal Rolls Out Photo Verification Trial
A high street trial has started using a payment system that recognises customers by their first name and picture via a mobile phone app.
Retailers in Richmond upon Thames are among the first to allow shoppers to leave their wallets at home and pay for items using just the PayPal app and their profile picture.
The eBay-owned company, whose parent firm is based in Luxembourg, has its UK offices in Richmond.
The app for iOS, Windows OS and Android phones highlights nearby shops and restaurants that accept PayPal before the customer checks in by clicking on the required retailer and sliding an animated pin down on their screen.
The customer's name and photo then appears on the shop's payment system and the retailer charges them by clicking on their image.
The customer then receives an alert on their phone to let them know how much they have paid as well as PayPal's usual email receipt.
The new photo-based system further develops a trial payment system that has been under test in the area of south west London.
At present, only 12 merchants are using the system but it expects more than 2,000 locations will have the ability to use the app by the end of 2013.
No high street icons have yet announced a decision to use the system.
Thousands of retailers use a 'check in to pay' system in the US, Australia and in the Asia Pacific region.
Richard Garcia, owner and proprietor of Cook and Garcia cafe, said: "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."
PayPal head of retail services Rob Harper said: "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 ... (with people paying) using their phone or tablet. We predict that by 2016 this will become a reality."
Paypal is not the first electronic point of sale system to drop the traditional chip and Pin security system but its trial now adds visual verification.
It is unclear how the photo-based system will affect people who frequently change hairstyles or hair colour.
Thwarting of high-tech smartphones cloning is believed to be a reason why the trial is not expected to go nationwide for some time.
Users' payments can be linked directly to bank accounts rather than requiring funds to reside in a Paypal account.
Paypal has increasingly become a core area for eBay, which has struggled to maintain strong growth despite it attempting a strategic relaunch late last year.
The online auction and direct sale site sought to carve a niche as a global retail platform against online giants such as Amazon.