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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileinternete-commercecebitAlibaba Group

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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?