Cash, cards and... selfies? How PayByFace is changing the game
As startups go, PayByFace is very much in its infancy, but in the four months since its inception, it has already garnered a notable amount of attention. FinTech finds out more.
Can’t find your phone? Left your wallet at home? The startup PayByFace does what it says on the tin. Through the use of facial recognition, customers using the platform can now make payments with their face. These are indeed exciting times.
The last decade has seen technology evolve at a whiplash speed. With smartphones becoming commonplace in the early 2010s, through to the surge of the digital-only unicorn banks from 2015 onwards; payments remains one of the fastest evolving industries today.
“We’re thrilled to bring a twist to the digital payment space,” said Founder & CEO Mihai Draghici. “We’ve simplified how consumers can pay for their favorite goods and services without their phones or wallets. PayByFace is much more secure but relevant during a time when most people are searching for ways to untether themselves from a mobile device in the event they forget their phone at home or just want to actively be more present in their day-to-day.”
PayByFace is among many fintechs in the race to commodify biometrics in the payments industry, joining the likes of Alipay’s “Smile-To-Pay”, Tencent’s “Frog Pro” and a number of other companies featuring in our top 10. Yet the concern around cybersecurity and data governance remains at the forefront for merchants and customers alike.
To meet these challenges head-on, PayByFace announced that it has implemented PAS 499 Certified Biometric Onboarding in a partnership with Facebanx.com’s unique IDauth.me. This live streaming technology enables the verification of customers while preventing fraudulent transactions. To support this continual growth is Nicola Coscione, one of the senior advisors on the board.
“I am more than honored to join the PayByFace Advisory Board, providing support for their work transforming the future of payment services. I look forward to working with the team to help PayByFace break into worldwide markets, including the world of motorsport that I have been involved in throughout my career. This is only the start line for PayByFace, and I am excited to be alongside their journey of innovation,” said Coscione.
Who is PayByFace?
PayByFace was cofounded in October 2019, by Mihai Draghici and Shefket Robelli in a drive to improve the efficiency of payments and create a seamless shopping experience.
PayByFace is headquartered in Bucharest Romania for its engineering, management and support; and Zurich, Switzerland for its sales, marketing and customer service.
Did you know? The first usage of facial recognition dates back to the 1960s, as pioneer and ‘father of facial recognition’, Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe, used the RAND tablet to track face shape with horizontal and vertical lines.
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FIVE things fintechs must do to keep investors onboard
New investors flocked to the stock market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-eight percent of investors said they had never had a brokerage or similar account before opening one in 2020.
Low or no-fee trading options have helped accelerate the trend – nearly half of new investors said they accessed their account primarily through a mobile app. As FinTechs, how do we create the trust needed to keep new investors in the market and create a fruitful customer experience for them?
The financial industry does a disservice to individual investors if we merely offer tools that focus on making money quickly, an approach that usually backfires. Instead, the surge of interest presents an enormous opportunity for those who want to help more consumers use financial technology to educate them on responsible spending, saving, and investing in order to achieve financial wellness current fintech tools have welcomed individual investors in the door.
Now, it’s time to focus on education and improving their experience going forward. There are several ways those of us in fintech can step up to shape the future of retail investing so that it works better for everyone, starting with the following areas.
Equal access to financial wellness education
Financial health should be available to everyone — but today, not everyone has the educational resources to achieve it. One study shows that only 3.9% of students from low-income schools were required to take a personal finance class. What they aren’t learning in school or from family members, fintech companies can provide on their platforms.
The companies should move from solely offering financial services to a more responsible model of education, advice, and prescriptive choices to help consumers develop better habits and make wiser financial decisions. Not only can they empower consumers and bridge historical wealth divides, but they can also stimulate growth by opening up new consumer segments.
Just as we’ve come to expect that our fitness routines are tailored to our individual bodies, we’re also ready for finance tools that go beyond one-size-fits-all solutions. But only six percent of financial institutions say they’re using the kind of technology that allows them to deliver a deeply personalized experience. Fintech tools need to reflect that financial success looks different for each of us.
For one consumer, it may mean providing guidance on how to pay off student loans early; for another, it may mean prescriptive actions that enable them to stick to a budget for the first time; for a third, it could look like prioritizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments, so that her portfolio aligns with her political beliefs.
Now, we are seeing financial technology beginning to meet the demands of personalized finance in a substantial and meaningful way.
The rise of AI-Powered Advice
Big-picture advice and predictive guidance used to be a feature of high-end financial advisory firms — a perk only available to those who could afford it. But thanks to rapid advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), that kind of holistic advice is now more accessible than ever. AI-driven robo-advisors can parse many different streams of financial information, delivering customized answers to key questions: Is it time to buy a home, or is it smarter to keep renting? Can I afford to take out another student loan?
Intelligent connectivity powered by AI can anticipate consumers’ needs and next steps, making proactive suggestions that guide them along the path to financial wellbeing. Fintech companies can also help consumers identify when their financial picture becomes too complex for a robo-advisor, and help them find a human financial advisor to meet their needs.
Focus on financial mental health
New investors are quickly finding that the market can be overwhelming. That’s not surprising, financial anxiety is common and studies show that financial stress can have an impact on mental health for some.
It’s not enough for fintech companies to give retail investors access; they also must provide the guidance and support that help consumers manage their financial well-being. Educational tools can ensure that consumers are well informed about their options.
Predictive analytics can anticipate consumers’ questions, serving them key information and insights before they ask. Features that emphasize a comprehensive notion of financial well-being, rather than short-term wins and losses, can also help ensure that consumers are keeping their eyes on the bigger picture.
Gamification for good
The surge of gamification apps has done an impressive job making investing as engaging as playing a video game or joining a social media platform.
Much of the current use of gamification emphasizes short-term thinking, but there’s also an opportunity to help consumers think more broadly about their overall financial picture. One example is peer benchmarking, a feature that enables help consumers to see how their financial habits compare to those of friends and fellow consumers.
Gamification can also be used to incentivize making smaller, smarter choices — for example, rewarding saving over making an impulse buy.
The future of fintech is about more than just broadening access to the markets. It’s about making sure more individuals have access to the tools that can help improve their financial well-being—in the ways that suit their own circumstances and needs. The potential to act within their own set of individual priorities, with their long-term financial wellness in mind is much more empowering to a consumer than simply relying on short-term, high-risk investments.