American Express is developing facial recognition technology for use in its products and services, according to a Wall Street Journal article by Kim S. Nash. The company hasn’t yet finalized any specific applications of the technology, but it’s far enough along that it’s being presented to senior managers – and, of course, discussed with the press.
Nash says that the work, led by the company’s Enterprise Growth innovation team, is meant to help American Express stay competitive with “upstart payment systems.” Presumably, that refers to both smaller, independent financial services companies as well as the major mCommerce/mPayment platforms now emerging, such as Apple Pay – or Alipay, which recently announced that it would use mobile facial recognition to authenticate users. It’s also a general effort to keep up with the times, in terms of technology and consumer expectations; a major focus of the Enterprise Growth team’s work is adapting the company’s services to new platforms such as the Apple Watch and other wearables.
Other traditional financial services have also lately felt mounting pressure to pursue technological innovation. MasterCard, for example, has been developing a biometric credit card and generally exploring the mobile financial services world, while Visa has actively been working with Apple on its mPayment platform, and is now courting its rivals.