Moscow Metro Face Pay

Released: October 2021

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Moscow's metro system has introduced Face Pay, a facial recognition-based cashless, cardless and phoneless system spread across 240 stations. Passengers will only need to look at a camera to travel.

Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin welcomed the initiative by boasting the city 'is the first in the world to introduce Face Pay on such a scale. The technology is new and very complex, we will continue to work on improving it.'

Privacy, surveillance concerns

However, activists are concerned about possible privacy abuse and the system's potential for surveillance and social control. Face Pay is 'a good pretext to put cameras at the turnstiles' an activist group from Moscow told the New York Times

In March 2022, the BBC reported that protestors against Russia's invasion of Ukraine were likely being identified by the Moscow Metro's facial recognition system.

Shortly afterwards, Moscow’s municipal IT department announced it is looking to build a centralised data storage facility for facial recognition and other data collected from the city and across Russia.

Face Pay was developed by Russian software firms NtechLab, VisionLabs and Tevian in conjunction with Russian bank VTB  Group. Belarusian developer Synesis is also known to supply Moscow authorities' with surveillance products.

In 2019, Moscow City Police were found to have been selling citizens' facial data and access to live streams of the city's CCTV facial recognition surveillance network, according to an investigation by MBKh Media. 

Operator: Moscow Metro
Developer: Moscow Metro, VTB Group, VisionLabs, NtechLab, Tevian 

Country: Russia

Sector: Govt - transport

Purpose: Drive sales

Technology: Facial recognition

Issue: Privacy; Dual/multi-use; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Privacy

Page info
Type: System
Published: October 2021
Last updated: March 2022