Alipay moves closer to public launch of “selfie” payments

Written by Kapronasia || July 20 2016

At Lendit’s China conference in Shanghai this week, Kapronasia learned that Chinese digital payments giant Alipay is close to rolling out its new facial recognition software to the public. The lender – whose payments system holds about 48 percent of China’s online payments market share last year – has already made the feature available for employees, and plans to open it up to the public in the next few months, according to a source from Ant Financial. To pay with a selfie, Alipay users use a camera installed on the online payments platform to take a picture of themselves and the platform uses biometric methods to verify their identity. Ant Financial, which runs Alipay, is an affiliate of Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group Holdings.

Last March, Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma wowed the audience at the CeBit conference in Hannover, Germany by debuting a feature that used facial recognition to buy and pay for products. The South China Morning Post reported Ma then took a selfie and used it to buy a souvenir stamp from a 1948 Hannover trade fair found on Taobao.

Alipay, Tencent and other digital payment players in China have been under pressure by the country’s central bank to beef up security in the payment industry. The People’s Bank of China issued rules last December requiring third-party payment platforms to have at least two methods of verifying a user’s identity before making a digital transaction.

Other exciting features introduced at the conference include the introduction of a robot customer service assistant and an on-site demonstration of a palm-reading recognition software to verify identities.