CLEAR Brings Biometrics to Airports, Ballparks

August 22, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

We’ve seen biometrics take a growing role in mobile payments developments of late thanks to their clear ability to provide the best in security measures without a lot of hassle on the user’s part. Scanning a thumb or an iris is pretty easy to do—you always have those things with you anyway—and few if any people actually have access to your thumbprint outside of skulduggery worthy of a spy thriller. Recently, CLEAR’s president Ken Cornick offered some insight on where biometrics were going, specifically, the ballpark and the airport.

The airport concept is impressive enough; CLEAR’s system requires a five to 10-minute onboarding procedure, and from there, users can authenticate at the airport with a thumbprint or the like connected to the information gathered in the onboarding process. The process is not only simple, but also sufficiently robust to be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) but also the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Meanwhile, out at the ballpark, CLEAR’s system is making an appearance at both the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Seahawks games in the form of a pilot program that allows customers to pay for concessions with biometric identities. Interestingly, the ballpark program is expected to come bundled with the airport plan, and users can take advantage of that for $179 per year.

Some might say that this is a great deal, and not without reason. For those who fly frequently, speeding up the gate matters isn’t a bad idea at all, and those who attend ballgames frequently would likely think similarly about speeding up the gate or the line at the concession stand. Given that the issues at the airport are largely constructed—you’ll notice that most of this wasn’t a problem until about, oh, late 2001 or so—the idea of having to buy a solution to a problem that didn’t exist before the TSA and the DHS got involved may seem repugnant.

In the end, however, it’s an excellent demonstration of what biometrics can do, and all the various ways it can do it. There’s a lot to like in this platform, whether it’s making a night at the ballpark or a trip to another state much easier, and we’ll likely only see improvements from here.