Alipay to link police mugshots to facial recognition banking
29 January 2015 12:01 GMT

China’s first internet-based bank, Qianhai Webank, also plans to use facial recognition to identify new account holders

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba’s mobile payments arm, Alipay, plans to access the national police’s facial database so that prospective customers can open bank accounts with a mugshot.

Alipay will use the Face++ facial recognition system developed by partner Megvii Inc, Bloomberg reports – if given approval by Beijing to access the mugshot database.

“In terms of technology, everything has been sorted,” said Yin, 27, who dropped out of Columbia University’s doctorate program in computer science to co-found Beijing-based Megvii, whose latest round of funding values the company at $100 million. “We are just waiting for regulators to approve.”

According to the Bloomberg report, Megvii’s app uses facial scans held in a Ministry of Public Security database drawn from legal identification files on about 1.3 billion Chinese.

In October, Planet Biometrics reported that Alibaba had changed the name of its Alipay financial services affiliate to Ant Financial Services Group. The firm said the rebranding of the Alipay unit, whose legal name is Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co, was part of a strategy to accelerate development

Alipay also revealed some its biometric ambitions at a demonstration that month, with staff stressing that fingerprints and facial recognition will play a big role in AliPay’s future. Alipay’s plans to use facial recognition with Megvii were also highlighted at the event.

Last week, China’s first internet-based bank, Qianhai Webank, also said it plans to use facial recognition to identify new account holders and authorise transactions. For that bank, remote account opening will rely on facial recognition – on both desktop PCs and smartphones.

Alipay clears some 80 million transactions per day, including 45 million transactions through its Alipay Wallet mobile app.

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