CLEAR, a New York City-based company that specializes in biometric security and originally got its start speeding travelers through growing airport lines in the post-9/11 era, now sees a major opportunity as the country exits lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic.
CLEAR recently released a product called Health Pass that links Covid-19 health information to biometric identifiers such as your face, eyes and fingerprints.
Since Health Pass launched, it has made significant inroads, particularly with stadiums that hold sporting events and need to check the status of many people quickly. In February, 100 vaccinated health-care workers were able to attend the Super Bowl by verifying their status through Health Pass. A third of NBA teams are using the app to enforce their Covid protocols for fans. People attending NHL hockey games in Arizona use Health Pass too.
The post-pandemic innovation helped CLEAR rank No. 19 on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list.
“What we realized in March of 2020 was that there was going to be a new card in your wallet that was a vaccine card or test results,” CLEAR co-founder and CEO Caryn Seidman-Becker said on CNBC’s “TechCheck” on Wednesday. “So connecting you to your health insights that are Covid-related was just always part of our mission in what we were doing, right aligned with it.”
As more people get vaccinated and concerts, sporting events, and large gatherings re-open, it’s becoming increasingly likely that patrons will have to digitally convey their Covid vaccination or testing status to get admitted.
“9/11 changed the way people thought about securing their building or their stadium,” Seidman-Becker said last month at a virtual town hall for members of CNBC’s Technology Executive Council. “It raised the level of consciousness when it came to security, and specifically homeland security.”
Not a ‘vaccine passport’
The CLEAR CEO stressed that the company’s technology should be not associated with the idea of a vaccine passport. “We are not talking about a vaccine passport. What we are talking about is giving people control and access to their health-care information, which was something that was happening before,” she said on CNBC on Wednesday. “So many trends were accelerated in 2020 and we see this as a material … sustaining trend … people should have access and control of their information.”
U.S. officials have said they are largely relying on people being honest about their vaccine status, and retailers and hotel chains have said they don’t plan to check for a proof of a vaccine. However some retailers, like Walmart, have partnered with CLEAR to offer Health Pass.
Investment groups aligned with the NFL and restaurant mogul Danny Meyer were among those taking part in a recent round of venture capital for the company, and the Shake Shack founder’s Union Square Hospitality Group has been using the technology for indoor dining’s return.
“We’re offering it to employers, but we’re offering it to consumers as well, for free, to connect their health insights to their CLEAR Health Pass,” Seidman-Becker said. “We’re partnered with Walmart, but we’re also partnered with the NBA to help people get back into stadiums or help offices reopen.”
“Quite frankly, this is a ubiquitous problem, making experiences safer and easier,” she added.