Planning on a Seahawks game in the near future? Leave your wallet at home.
Ok maybe take your wallet, but you won’t need it to buy beer and snacks during the game, or even to enter CenturyLink Field. CLEAR, who makes biometric scanning technology, has teamed up with the Seahawks as well as the Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Sounders to get fans through security faster and allow them to purchase concessions without an ID or credit card.
If you do much traveling, you’ve probably already seen CLEAR’s technology at work in airports, speeding up the security checkpoint process for those who enroll. It’s also in a handful of sports arenas around the country, where it’s used mostly for entry into games as well as access to VIP areas. CLEAR members, who pay $15/month, do an initial scan of their biometrics at a CLEAR kiosk (below). CLEAR stores that information (the company is Safety Act Certified), and can access it whenever someone scans a fingerprint on one of its machines.
At Seattle sports games, CLEAR will not only speed up entry into games, it also marks the first time the technology will be used to simultaneously verify your ID and pay for alcoholic beverages. And while CLEAR is at other sports arenas around the U.S., the Seahawks are the first NFL team to have gotten involved with this technology.
As anyone who’s ever been to a sports game knows, wait times to get into the venue, and to buy food and drinks are often downright exhausting. Scanning a fingerprint instead of fumbling with a wallet is an obvious time saver. Or in CLEAR’s own (somewhat philosophical) words, “When you are you, instead of something in your pocket, life is more frictionless, more secure, and more predictable.”
For the stadiums, it not only eases congestion at the entrance gates and minimizes the risk of someone trying to purchase booze with a fake ID.
CLEAR is only in a few stands at CenturyLink and Safeco fields right now, but the concept of biometrics at entertainment venues could boost a wide range of business in future: music festivals, movie theaters, and even the local bar, to name just a few.
Or it could just alienate people who, perhaps rightly so, are wary of handing over their fingerprints to purchase a beer. Biometrics have few guard rails in place right now around user privacy, and many (including yours truly), have concerns around how invasive the technology could become in terms of how it gathers and uses data. Plus, despite advocates talking up the secure aspect of the technology, biometrics produces data, which remains susceptible to hackers. In other words, once your face or thumbprint or DNA are in the system, they’re that much harder to protect.
Don’t get me wrong, I think biometrics as a way to improve business holds a ton of potential. But if the most recent Facebook saga shows, we’re not taught, as average consumers, to think twice before handing over information about ourselves in exchange for entertainment. Biometrics will become the norm at some point, in entertainment settings and otherwise. So by all means, use CLEAR to get your $15 drink at the next Seahawks game. Just know you’re handing over way more than a fingerprint when you send yours into the datasphere.