Wed, Dec 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Hertz, Clear partner for rental biometric scans

AP

Biometric screening is expanding to the rental car industry.

Hertz yesterday said it is teaming up with Clear, the maker of biometric screening kiosks found at many airports, in a bid to slash the time it takes to pick up a rental car.

Clear hopes it will lead more travelers to its platform, which has 3 million members in the US.

Hertz is the first rental car company to use the technology.

More than 100 airports worldwide use biometric readers from Clear, Vision-Box and other companies to scan passengers. Walt Disney World verifies visitors’ identity by scanning fingerprints.

The advancements will likely keep coming. Microsoft is working with the Reserve Bank of Australia on cardless ATMs that would let people withdraw cash using a facial scan and personal identification number. Universities in London and Copenhagen have on-campus groceries that let students pay with their finger. Some laptops can be unlocked with a fingerprint scan.

Hertz and Clear this week launched their biometrics scans at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

It is to be rolled out to 40 more US Hertz locations next year, including John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program members with access to Clear would be able to bypass the counter, pick up their car and head to the exit gate.

There, Clear pods equipped with cameras and touchscreens can read their face or their fingerprints. If they match up with Hertz’s reservation data, the gate will open.

Hertz is to have at least one lane dedicated to Clear members at each location.

Hertz president and CEO Kathy Marinello expects Clear to shave one-and-a-half minutes off what is now a two-minute checkout process.

The service is free for members of the Gold Plus Rewards program, which also has no fee. Travelers can sign up for Clear at a Hertz location.

To upgrade to airport service, which promises to move Clear members through security lines faster, people must pay US$15 monthly.

Clear said it is the first time it would identify members based on their face instead of their iris or fingerprints.

The cameras can take measurements and identify minute differences in facial features, Clear CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker said.

Amil Jain, a professor at Michigan State University who researches biometrics, said that facial screenings work by comparing an original photograph to a new one.

That could be tough in a rental car lane, where the lighting might differ substantially and drivers could be wearing makeup or winter scarves that change their features.

“If you don’t do the biometrics right, you’ll turn off the customer more,” he said.

However, biometric scanning done well could be more robust and secure than having an employee see if a driver’s face matches their license, he added.

Jain does not think customers need to be particularly worried about facial scans, saying that millions of people have shared photographs of their faces on Facebook and other platforms already.

However, Consumer Reports director of consumer privacy and technology Justin Brookman said that consumers should think twice before sharing personal identifiers.

“Once your biometric data gets leaked or compromised, you can’t really do anything about it,” he said. “The more people who potentially have it, the more potential for things to go bad.”

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