Alibaba uses facial recognition tech for online payments

The technology could replace the use of passwords on Alibaba's Alipay service

Jack Ma showing off Alipay's new facial recognition tech

Jack Ma showing off Alipay's new facial recognition tech

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group and affiliated online payment service Alipay are aiming to use facial recognition technology to take the place of passwords.

On Sunday, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma showed off the new feature while speaking at the Cebit trade fair in Hanover, Germany.

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

"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."

Alibaba, which reigns as China's largest e-commerce player, said Monday that the facial recognition feature was still under development.

Other online payment services have also started using biometrics to confirm user purchases. Apple Pay, for instance, relies on an iPhone's fingerprint scanner.

It's unclear how secure is Alibaba's technology. But the company's affiliated Alipay service is already hugely popular in China, where it has over 300 million registered users.

Just over a half of the transactions Alipay processes came from mobile devices last year. And although most of Alibaba's business remains in China, the company has ambitions to expand globally.

Earlier this month, the company announced it would enter the U.S. cloud computing market, by opening a new data center in Silicon Valley.

Alipay, which was spun off from Alibaba in 2011, is also seeking to grow an international user base. Last October, Apple CEO Tim Cook also said he was eyeing a possible partnership with Alibaba Group to bring Apple Pay to China.

The facial recognition feature, while 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.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cebite-commerceAlibaba Groupmobileinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?