Moscow Metro to Implement ‘FacePay’ Fare Payment System

The Moscow metro plans to implement contactless fare payment using facial recognition technology at all metro stations by the end of the year, Interfax reported Tuesday, citing metro security service head Andrei Kichigin.

To use the FacePay system, passengers must have a Russian bank account that has their biometric data on file, according to Kichigin. After passengers approach one of the cameras installed at the turnstiles or ticket booths, the fare is automatically debited from their account and the turnstiles will open.

Authorities have been testing the FacePay system since December. Test participants have successfully passed through the turnstiles 2,000 times so far, Kichigin said.

Moscow Deputy Mayor Maxim Liksutov has said that the FacePay system works even if passengers are wearing face masks.

Authorities in Moscow have already deployed facial recognition technology across a vast network of surveillance cameras to identify criminal suspects, sparking concerns from activists. Last year, the Russian capital deployed its “Safe City” facial recognition surveillance program to track potential carriers of the coronavirus and enforce their quarantines.

In February, the city reportedly allocated more than $10 million to expand the facial-recognition network within its sprawling metro system.

The Moscow metro’s facial-recognition cameras have helped police detain more than 900 suspected criminals in the past six months, Kichigin said Tuesday.

According to The Village news website, several people who took part in recent mass protests in support of jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny were detained at metro stations after being recognized by the facial recognition cameras.

Moscow Expects Year-End Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout

Moscow could receive bulk shipments of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020 while the vaccine continues to undergo final clinical trials, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said Thursday.

Phase 3 trials of Sputnik V, an adenovirus-based vector vaccine that the Russian government approved in August, are expected to wrap up in May 2021. A second vaccine developed in Siberia has received a patent this week ahead of its expected registration on Oct. 15.

“I hope that we’ll have the first large batches of the vaccine in November or December,” Sobyanin, the head of Russia’s national coronavirus task force, said in an interview on state television.

Industrial-scale production of the vaccine is expected to begin sometime between late December and January, he added.

Around 6,000 out of 40,000 volunteers and 600 medics have been inoculated with the Sputnik V vaccine in the Russian capital as part of post-registration double-blind trials so far, Sobyanin said.

Small batches have also been sent to other Russian regions.

Russia has the world’s fourth-highest number of infections at 1.18 million. Its daily caseload has risen sharply from less than 5,000 to nearly 9,000 in the past month, stoking fears of a second wave.

In the capital, the daily count of new Covid-19 infections has more than doubled over the past week, surpassing 2,400 on Thursday.

To curb the resurgent spread of Covid-19 in Moscow, Sobyanin announced an extended two-week school break, ordered offices to send one-third of their workforce home starting next Monday and strongly urged the elderly to stay indoors.

The mayor warned that he may reinstate tougher measures if the city of 12.7 million fails to observe the rules and health guidelines.

Sobyanin maintained Thursday that the city is still experiencing its first wave of the virus.

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