UK Food Bank Uses QR Codes and Biometrics to Distribute Food to Those in Need

Already available in a trial mode, the innovative food bank initiative enables people fighting personal crises and poverty to spend dedicated charitable funds at local grocery stores using QR code payment technology

food bank qr codes biometrics


London-based Hackney Foodbank started trialling the FaceDonate app in 2022 and is finally making the service available to users at all its five distribution centres.

Food banks are non-profit, charitable organizations that distribute food to those having difficulty purchasing it due to extreme poverty or temporary crisis. Per estimations of FaceDonate, about £60 per food parcel goes towards operational costs. The innovative food distribution way eliminates unnecessary costs, offering beneficiaries better product choices and flexibility, as well as supporting their dignity.

The app offers an easy food acceptance experience. The charity distributes funds according to the size of each user’s household. When users visit a participating grocery store, they should scan their face with the app to generate a QR code for payment. The beneficiaries quickly receive the required funds into their account and authorise their purchase.

Naturally, there are some limitations, helping charities to better control the beneficiary’s use of the dedicated funding. Thus, Hackney Foodbank users are barred from spending the given money on big-ticket items, tobacco or alcohol. Neither can they transfer the funds to anyone else.

Besides, it allows recipients choose their own preferred food items, while maintaining regular daily activities like shopping. Many people who need assistance with food purchases have not been born in poverty and collecting donations or food parcels from the food bank may be stressful or embarrassing for them. Using the app makes it less traumatic and enables people in need to better satisfy their nutrition needs, customizing their food baskets to their own liking and taste.

At the same time, choosing the option once doesn’t eliminate one’s right to come and receive the ready-packed food parsel in person at the distribution centre.

Innovative fintech solutions are increasingly used for charitable cases. We have recently reported that traditional Islamic donations are now accepted via SoftPOS in Malaysia.

Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.