Facial recognition is becoming China's new payment method. ( Photo: VCG)
China is fast becoming a cashless society. The country's mobile payment infrastructure is one of the world's most advanced.
In cities around China, vendors in outlets ranging from supermarkets to bakeries have been adopting facial recognition payment technology, bringing greater convenience to consumers.
Now, to make a purchase, Chinese shoppers do not even need to bring their smart phones with them to scan QR codes. If you want to buy something at this 24-hour self-service store in Southern China's Chongqing, all you need to do is smile.
Liao Zhenyu, marketing director for 17 Shandian 24H Self-service Store, said their facial recognition technology is using a program to detect living bodies. "The cameras are binocular and they can monitor things that are moving. If it's not a person but a photo that is not moving, it can not possibly pass the detection program," he said.
Tech giants are trying to tap into the burgeoning industry. Alipay – the financial arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has been leading the change in China with devices in over 300 cities. Not to be outdone, Tencent, which runs the WeChat app with 600 million users, pushed out its new machine called "Frog Pro" in August.
Many consumers seem to be taking the new technology in their stride.
But others have concerns over data security and privacy issues. They think the current payment tools are fast enough and it's unnecessary to introduce too many payment methods.
The concerns have not gone unnoticed by technology experts. Xia Xianchong is the deputy director of the Department of Finance Services at Cloudwalk Technology. "When it comes to mobile payment, although the facial recognition technology has been developing for years and it is relatively mature now... as for the moment, I don't think we are ready to use our face as the only transaction password or the only tool to verify payments. We need some other measures for verification, such as entering the codes, to complete the facial recognition payment," he said.
Facial recognition payment technology is definitely on the rise in China. But it can only be a powerful and helpful tool when used correctly.