Alipay executive says biometrics will replace passwords within three years

July 16, 2015 - 

At a presentation at the Digital Commerce Summit in Shanghai, Alipay VP Jason Lu predicted that biometric verification for mobile payments will eventually replace traditional passwords.

Lu spent the large part of his presentation talking about the possibilities for biometric authentication via mobile devices, particularly in the cases of facial and fingerprint recognition technologies.

He compared the two biometric methods, stating that unlike fingerprints, a user’s face was not as secretive. He asked the audience, hypothetically, “Nobody puts their fingerprints on social media, right?”

Lu also pointed out that in some countries only national governments are given the authority to collect fingerprints, which prevents the private sector from using the same biometric method. Additionally, Lu explained that in China, the government integrates encrypted fingerprint data into second-generation ID cards.

On the other hand, Lu noted that two key disadvantages of using facial recognition is that a user’s face changes with age, and that hackers could potentially use a user’s photo to spoof their identity.

He did make it clear that one way to resolve the spoofing issue is to design a system that requires the user to move, ensuring that the face belongs is part of a living human being, and not an simply a photo.

Lu seemed confident that passwords will be “dead” within the next three years. “No one will have to remember words and numbers. Instead they will use fingerprint or face,” he said.

He also discussed the future plans of Alipay’s parent company, Ant Financial Services. The two are affiliate companies of e-commerce firm Alibaba, whose mission is to develop mobile internet-based services for small/ micro enterprises and regular citizens.

“By combining big data and internet, we can attract a lot of ordinary people who do not have a whole lot of money,” he said.

Up until now, both Alipay and Ant Alibaba have been mostly ignored by traditional financial institutions, but the companies are hoping to innovate the financial services market as well as instilling a 24/7 mentality around analysing risk and policy deployment.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.