[AI Incident Report] Wallet app failed to recognize faces, bars Thai citizens from claiming government cash handout

Submitted to the AI Incident Database on 25 October 2022 (my first time!). Based on a report by Thai PBS on 4 October 2019, with information from additional sources. Appeared in the database on 26 October 2022. I will keep the extended report here for archival purpose. For a concise report and citation, please link to Incident 375 in the AI Incident Database.

Lots of Thais cannot register for the government cash handout scheme as the app managing government wallet failed to recognize their faces during the authentication process. People entitled to the handout have to wait for a very long queue at their local ATMs instead to get authenticated.

The handout is limited to 10 million recipients in the first round and a recipient has to register to claim it. Thailand has almost 70 million population. The registration involved the authentication process of photo taking the citizen identification card and the face of the card holder. If not successful, the citizen can do it at a supported ATM machine. There are about 3,000 ATMs that support the process nationwide.

On social media, internet users share the problems they had, screenshots of messages from the app, and also photo taking techniques that may pleased the facial recognition. The tips include applying face powder makeup, put the hair up, take off eyeglasses, take the photo during daytime in the sunlight, look straight, make the face and comb the hair to match one in the ID card, and avoid having shadow on the ID card.

Elder people are one of the groups that suffer the most from the facial recognition issue, as their current faces can be more different from ones in their ID cards. Thai citizen ID card law said people who are 70 years old or more are no longer need to renew their cards, which normally requires to be renewed every eight years. Because of this, the face on the ID card and the actual face can be very different.


The cash handout program, called “Chim, Shop, Chai” (ชิมช้อปใช้ roughly translated as “eat, buy, spend”) is aimed to promote domestic tourism.

The same government wallet, “G Wallet”, will be used later for many other rounds of cash handout and co-pay programs to come during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as “Khon La Khrueng” (คนละครึ่ง, “each pay half”) – where the same facial recognition issue still occurs.

Total number of individuals registered for these financial support programs is around 26.5 million. The wallet itself is inside “Paotang” (เป๋าตัง) super app, developed and managed by a state enterprise Krungthai Bank. Paotang has 34 million active users in June 2022.


Suggested citation format:

Suriyawongkul, Arthit. (2019-09-29) Incident Number 375. in Lam, K. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative. Retrieved on October 26, 2022 from incidentdatabase.ai/cite/375.

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