Hertz speeds up rentals with airport-style scanners

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Biometric screening is spreading to the rental car industry.

Hertz announced on Tuesday that it is partnering with Clear, the maker of biometric checkpoints at many airports, in an effort to reduce the time it takes to collect a rental car. Clear hopes he will drive more travelers to his platform, which has 3 million members in the United States.

It’s the last place consumers will find biometric technology, which has migrated over the past 50 years from secure government facilities and banks to airports, stadiums and even smartphones that unlock with the touch of a fingerprint. . Hertz is the first car rental company to use this technology.

Improvements in cameras and other technologies have made it cheaper to install scanners that can read fingerprints, faces and irises. More than 100 airports around the world use biometric readers from Clear, Vision-Box and other companies to scan passengers. Walt Disney World verifies the identity of visitors by scanning fingerprints.

And progress will likely continue to come. Microsoft is working with Australia’s National Bank on cardless ATMs that would allow people to withdraw money using a face scanner and a personal identification number. The universities of London and Copenhagen have grocery stores on campus that allow students to pay with their finger. Some laptops can now be unlocked with a fingerprint scan.

Hertz with Clear launched its biometric scans this week at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It will be deployed at 40 other Hertz sites in the United States next year, including New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport.

Members of the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program with access to Clear will be able to bypass the counter, collect their car and proceed to the exit door. There, Clear pods equipped with cameras and touch screens can read their face or fingerprints. If they match Hertz’s reservation data, the door will open. Hertz will have at least one dedicated Clear member channel at each location.

Hertz President and CEO Kathy Marinello expects Clear to save a minute and a half on what is now a two-minute checkout process.

“In the world of travel, I think time is of the essence,” she said.

The service is free for members of the Gold Plus Rewards program, which is also free. Travelers can sign up for Clear at any Hertz branch. To upgrade to airport service, which promises to move Clear members through security lines faster, travelers must pay a monthly fee of $ 15.

Clear says this is the first time he will identify members based on their face rather than their iris or fingerprints. Clear CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker said the cameras can take measurements and identify tiny differences in facial features.

Amil Jain, a professor at Michigan State University who studies biometrics, says facial screens work by comparing an original photo to a new one. This could be difficult in a rental car lane, where the lighting can differ significantly and drivers can wear makeup or winter scarves that change their characteristics.

“If you don’t do the biometrics correctly, you will further discourage the customer,” he said. But a well-performed biometric scan could be more robust and secure than asking an employee to see if a driver’s face matches their license, he said.

Jain doesn’t think clients need to be particularly worried about facial scans. He points out that millions of people have already shared photos of their faces on Facebook and other platforms.

But Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology for Consumer Reports, said consumers should think twice before sharing personal identifiers.

“Once your biometrics are leaked or compromised, there is nothing you can do about it,” he said. “The more people who potentially have it, the more things are likely to go wrong.”

Seidman-Becker said Clear will not sell or share the data it collects. She noted that the company has been certified by the US Department of Homeland Security.

But Jeramie Scott, national security attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said sharing biometric data is always risky because there are no federal laws governing the collection, use and disclosure. retention of biometric data.

“An individual can sign up for one use only to find that along the way their data is being used in another way,” he said.

Marinello said Clear approached Hertz about the partnership and Hertz agreed to pay for the installation of the Clear modules. Marinello wouldn’t say how much Hertz is investing, but said the company expects to recoup that through an increase in the number of customers and return visits.

Hertz was eager to embrace new technology and partner with other companies in a bid to prove that there is still a future in rental cars despite pressure from ride-sharing companies and self-driving cars. It is, for example, a Volvo partner in an autonomous driving incubator in Israel.

Clear also tried to grow its membership through partnerships after Seidman-Becker bought it out of bankruptcy in 2010. Delta Air Lines bought a 5% stake in the company in 2016 and is offering fares. Clear membership at a reduced price for frequent travelers.


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