Alibaba demos facial recognition
tech for online payments
16 March 2015 16:42 GMT

The facial recognition feature, while still in a beta state, will be called

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and its payments wing Alipay have unveiled a mobile payments solution called “Smile to pay” that uses facial recognition to authenticate payments.

Speaking at the Cebit trade fair in Hanover, Germany, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma used the technology on a smartphone to buy a souvenir stamp from Alibaba's e-commerce site in China.

The facial recognition feature, while still in a beta state, will be called "Smile to Pay," according to a social media post.

"Online payment to buy things is always a big headache," he said. "You forget your password, you worry about your security. Today we show you a new technology."

In January, Planet Biometrics reported that Alipay also plans to access the national police’s facial database so that prospective customers can open bank accounts with a mugshot.

Smile to Pay was developed in partnership with Megvii, which provides a cloud-based facial recognition service.

Alipay will use the Face++ facial recognition system developed by partner Megvii Inc, and hopes to gain approval from Beijing to access the mugshot database.

More than a half of the transactions Alipay processes came from mobile devices last year.

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.

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