July 21, 2024
Yes, facial verification will replace passports at UK airports — but not in 2024

Britain is set to test facial verification tech that removes the need for passports, but experts have dashed hopes of a full launch this year.

The project was unveiled this week by Phil Douglas, the director-general of the UK’s Border Force. Douglas told the Times that he aims to install new e-gates at airports that create an “intelligent border.” By integrating enhanced facial verification, the system would make physical travel documents unnecessary.

Trials of the tech are expected to start this year. A full rollout, however, remains a more distant prospect.

Andrew Bud, the CEO at British biometric leader iProov, told TNW that facial verification “is not going to replace passports at UK airports in 2024.” Nonetheless, he’s confident that the switch will “certainly come” later.

Bud speaks from a unique experience with the tech: iProov created the first-ever biometric corridor for train travel, which opened last July at Eurostar’s London terminal.

Building digital borders

iProov’s system replaces border checks with a facial verification checkpoint that you just walk straight past.

Before travel, the passenger downloads the app, authenticates their ID, scans their face, and links their ticket. On arrival at St Pancras Station in London, they stroll through a dedicated lane for the tech, which verifies their entry.

Multiple people can be verified simultaneously.