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World's first supermarket in Jordan's Zaatari camp tries out iris scan technology

Reporter: Stephanie Freid 丨 CCTV.com

10-08-2016 14:27 BJT

Iris scans are usually associated with airport security and other biometric data collection. But as of this week, the technology is being used to keep track of supermarket purchases.

The sophisticated technology was introduced at Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp days ago. The aid agency behind the implementation says it simplifies tracking procedures and cuts costs. For refugees, it keeps virtual accounts safe with the blink of an eye.

76,000 Syrian refugees at Jordan’s Zaatari Refugee Camp rely on food aid

For the World Food Program - the agency responsible for dispensing food alotments - that has historically meant tracking seventy 6,000 bank-linked accounts, issuing tens of thousands of debit cards and crediting those cards each month.

A few days ago that changed with the implementation of a new bank-linked iris scan system.

Now when Syrians get to the supermarket checkout, a register-linked iris scanner communicates with the United Nations Refugee Agency's biometric database. Within seconds purchases are withdrawn and the shopper's account is updated

The makers of this technology say this is the first time iris scans are being used in the supermarket environment in the world. Obviously it simplifies the whole process. If you forget your card or you forget your pin it doesn't matter. You’ve still got your eyes.

The system was created specifically for the World Food Program who reports it minimalizes labor and material costs associated with card distribution and replacement and safeguards refugees

"It guarantees their assistance even more so it's an added layer of security in the sense that if someone misplaces their card, loses their card, the card gets stolen, there is no way that someone can actually use their assistance," said Shada Moghraby, spokesperson of World Food Program.

The system is programmed to only accept goods with specific nutritional values  - refugees can't purchase items like cigarettes, chocolate or soft drinks using the iris scan.

A first-time user's response to the procedure?

An estimated half million Syrian refugees in Jordan are currently receiving WFP food assistance - the iris scan program has been implemented in two other camps.

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