Alibaba to Employ Facial Recognition Tech for Online Payments

Electronic commerce giant Alibaba Group and affiliated online payment service Alipay plan to introduce facial recognition technology to replace passwords.

Alibaba, which is China’s largest e-commerce player, says that the facial recognition feature is still under development. However, its chairman Jack Ma was able to demonstrate the new feature when he made a presentation at the Cebit trade fair in Hanover, Germany.

Using Alipay, Ma bought a souvenir stamp from Alibaba’s e-commerce site in China and to confirm the purchase he scanned his face using the front camera on his smartphone.

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

The facial recognition feature, although still in a beta state, is called ‘Smile to Pay’, according to a social media post by Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba-affiliated company which runs Alipay. The feature was developed in partnership with a Beijing company Megvii, which provides a cloud-based facial recognition service.

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