PayPal has begun a London trial of a scheme that will let shoppers pay for goods by using their mobile phone, once they are recognised by their first name and picture.
A dozen small businesses in the high street in Richmond Upon Thames - including cafes, restaurants, shops, a hotel and even a fish and chip shop - will be the first in the country to use the new technology.
Customers will be able to use the new PayPal app for iOS, Windows OS and Android phones, which let them check in to pay.
They must first check in to the shop by clicking on the retailer then pay simply by sliding a pin down in the app. When a customer has checked in, their name and photo appear on the shop’s payment system. Once the customer agrees the amount to be paid, the cashier charges them by clicking on this image.
The customer gets an alert on their phone to let them know how much they’ve paid, as well as PayPal’s usual email receipt. The app also highlights nearby shops and restaurants that accept PayPal.
"PayPal first brought ‘pay by mobile’ to the UK high street two years ago," said Rob Harper, head of retail services at PayPal.
"Through our Richmond initiative, we’re pleased to help local businesses of all sizes offer a new more personal experience, while never having to turn away customers who don’t have enough cash on them to pay. Now locals in Richmond can leave their wallet or purse at home and be the first in the country to use their profile picture to pay."
The PayPal trial is just one of many initiatives currently in operation to make paying for things easier or different from handing over cash or a bank card.
Earlier this year Paddle, a small UK start-up based in Cambridge, announced that it was trailing a new system with Marks & Spencer that would allow shoppers to take a picture of a QR on screen and have that information beamed to their phone so they didn't need to put in their payment details every time.
Likewise, Visa, Mastercard and other companies such as Google and Amazon are testing virtual wallets that allow people to store all their credit cards in one place, while services like Square and iZettle allow shop owners to use iPads or iPhones instead of cash registers.