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Alipay launches new biometric facial recognition POS device with $450M incentive program


Alipay has launched a new version of its Dragonfly facial recognition-powered point-of-sale system, and plans to spend CNY3 billion (US$450 million) to promote its use in China, according to Yicai Global.

The Dragonfly 2 is smaller and lighter than the original, making it portable, according to a Weibo post by Alipay. The device measures two inches less, its thickness has been reduced by a third and its weight by half, and it can be folded to make it the size of a book, the report says. The next-generation 3D camera system in the Dragonfly 2 is more precise and has a wider capture area, and also works in various lighting conditions so merchants do not have to change store lighting.

The Ant Financial subsidiary’s device has been deployed to more than 300 cities across China, including a historic shopping street in Wenzhou City, and recently at Hong Kong International Airport duty free stores.

The new version retails for CNY1,999 ($298.00), which is nearly 30 percent less than the original, and Alipay is offering a range of discounts during the pre-sale period that could reduce the price to as little as CNY1,199 ($179). Part of the promotional budget is dedicated to merchant incentives based on transaction volumes can be worth up to CNY1,200, which Alipay says could make the device effectively free.

Alipay also says the large-scale commercialization of its facial recognition service has driven the employment of 500,000 people in the industry for research and development, production, installation, and commissioning since last year, and Yicai reports the average salary of staff commissioning and installing face scanners is CNY150,000 to 200,000 ($22,350 to $29,800).

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