Google may add facial recognition to Android Pay via a new feature that's apparently going to be called Visual ID, which could end up in the app within a near future update. While Visual ID has not yet been added into the Android Pay app a recent teardown of the latest APK file for Android Pay reveals that a feature called Visual ID was present in the code and was referenced more than once. The interesting part is that it's said that Google won't be implementing the use of it for payment authentication, but rather just to authenticate loyalty cards instead.
In order for this work retailers will need to have a special Visual ID camera in place that can match the photo taken by the user to one taken with the camera at the retail location, and once the photos match up a verification is in place, though the app Visual ID camera will also need to use Bluetooth to place the location of the user in the store. In the midst of this whole process Google sends the loyalty card information to the store's Visual ID camera so that the customer can proceed with their transaction. Whether or not this will end up being faster than simply pulling out your device and scanning it with the loyalty card you want to use will have to wait until the feature is available, and there's still no indication of when exactly it will be added.
Google notes that the Visual ID camera will only be available at participating retailers so there is a chance that the new Visual ID feature will only be usable on a smaller scale in the beginning, but Google also hasn't mentioned how large the scope of supported stores will be at launch when this feature is added into the app, nor have they mentioned any supported cities at this point. That leaves quite the broad range of possible locations where people will actually be able to use it, and those that aren't in a supported city or at a supported retailer will still have to access and use their loyalty cards in Android Pay the same way they always have.