Alibaba businesses testing face recognition to unlock delivery drop boxes

Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group announced that two of its units are testing facial recognition technology which will allow users to unlock delivery drop boxes, according to a report by Asia One.

Cainiao Network Technology Co Ltd, an Alibaba-backed courier aggregator, is piloting a facial recognition-based application with its partner delivery firms and parcel pickup facility providers in Shanghai.

Alibaba’s fintech subsidiary, Ant Financial Services Group, has installed kiosks across five locations at Shanghai’s financial district of Lujiazui, whereby cameras scan people’s faces to verify their identities. The companies plan to eventually expand the pilot projects for a nationwide rollout.

In the first pilot, the facial recognition technology would compare the detected face with the image recorded by public security authorities, according to Chen Jidong, director of biometric identification technology at Ant Financial.

In order to do this, users would be required to register for a service embedded in the Alipay digital wallet, which allows the app to capture their personal information to confirm their identity.

The service uses Alipay’s database of 550 million real-name users to compare and match the user’s biometric information.

“The scanning system focuses on your face, so it doesn’t matter if you change your makeup or wear a wig,” Chen said, adding that multiple tests have been done in different environments such as under sunlight or in the dark to ensure a more seamless performance.

Last week at a customer conference in Shanghai, the companies showed a demonstration video which suggested the whole process takes about five seconds.

The companies said this significantly reduces the traditional method of parcel retrieval of typing in text codes, which typically takes 16 seconds.

“I would expect this investment and new process to save a substantial amount of time and ensure security,” said Zou Jianhua, CEO of parcel pickup facility firm Diyi Box. “Just in Shanghai, at least 10,000 parcel pickup locations will be equipped with such functionality in three years.”

Chen said that the false-acceptance rate should be under 0.001 percent and be further lowered to ensure bank-level security.

Chinese courier SF Express is reportedly developing its own biometrics-based technology to apply to its own parcel pickup cabinets.

In July, Alibaba Group demonstrated a facial recognition-powered, cashier-less coffee shop at its second Taobao Maker Festival.

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