Biometrics Can Help Book A Car Rental In Less Than 2 Minutes
Chinese company innovation raises legitimate questions about customer privacy
Back in 2019, Hertz announced its tandem project with high-tech biometrics firm CLEAR had yielded some fruit with the introduction of facial scanning and other features to its airport-based Fast Lane services, designed to speed up the car rental booking process. Earlier this month, a Chinese company upped the ante by creating a platform that can do the whole transaction in less than two minutes.
Introduced Jan. 13 at a demonstration at Kunming Changsui International Airport in Kunming, China, an automated kiosk demonstrated how biometric technology could get the job done. It’s a mobile platform created by Alipay, a result of a joint venture with Wukong Car Rental. Blockchain technology was implemented into the speedy system to allow all the transactions to take place, with data from the exchanges stored in such a way that records of the process can’t be distorted or altered in any way.
Alipay, which could roll out the service at airports across the service within weeks, claimed that the biometrics used will enable consumers to book a car using a facial scan, with no need for a customer card or a manual assistant to help things along. They first need to click onto an Alipay app on their smartphones and once biometrics approves the deal, customers head off to the vehicle and use their smartphones to unlock the doors.
Alipay is just a footnote in the grand scheme of things involving the Chinese government President Xi is hoping the technology will ensure the country becomes a world leader in block technology. That’s in line with the government’s similar goals of leading the international pack in overall innovation in the transportation industry, given its recent concentration in producing green and autonomous vehicles.
The jury’s still out on whether Alipay can back its claims that its system is foolproof, since its designed to integrate with customer bank accounts and credit ratings, making it an irresistible target for cybercriminals.
But Frederic Bussler, who heads the Security Token Alliance, an international think tank on security involving artificial intelligence and financial transactions, has an even deeper worry.
“To trust governments with complete access to the information of every individual is no less than letting them play God, which is beyond unethical,” he said. “It’s evil, wrapped in the guise of a cool new technology that offers convenience and can help catch the bad guys.”