Facial recognition payments not a hit yet in China, but new services launching

Facial recognition payments not a hit yet in China, but new services launching

Biometric payments with facial recognition seem not to have been embraced enthusiastically in China, but new services leveraging the technology continue to be announced.

State-backed Chinese bank card issuer UnionPay has launched a new biometric facial recognition payment service at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, TechNode reports.

The product release indicates increasing acceptance of facial recognition as a mainstream payment method, according to analysts cited by TechNode.

Translated as “Face Scan Pay” by TechNode, the service uses two-factor authentication, with users entering a password after a biometric scan. The service can be activated with UnionPay’s mobile app Cloud QuickPass, or through commercial lenders’ apps. It will be rolled out to Ningbo, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Jiaxing, Changsha, Wuhan, and Hefei before reaching other cities in a broader release.
Universal Studios Beijing, meanwhile, is planning to deploy facial recognition for ticketless entry linked to Alibaba’s Alipay digital payment platform, according to The Ticketing Business News. The biometric payment system will also be available for storage locker rental, concessions, and express queues for rides.

The system will be offered as an option alongside traditional payment methods.

The theme park, which will feature popular characters such as Harry Putter and Kung-Fu Panda, was announced in 2014, and is expected to open in 2021.

Sales volumes handled by smart payment technologies, including facial recognition, increased by 90 percent during the recent National Day holidays, according to an Alipay report spotted by the Global Times. Facial recognition appears to some to be unpopular, however, in the early stages of its rollout for retail payments due to privacy concerns, the outlet says.

A recent state media radio report suggested that the utilization of facial recognition payment terminals is low, with consumers expressing concerns over their security, and vendors balking at the investment cost. Still, Alipay is expected to place a million of its terminals across the country. WeChat showed off its “Frog Pro” facial recognition payment terminals at the Chongqing Smart China Expo in August.

A recent editorial in the Nanfing Daily argued that spoof attacks could defeat facial payment systems, and breaches of biometric data would have disastrous effects on privacy, the Global Times reports.

International Data Corp. Assistant Research Head of Artificial Intelligence Lu Yanxia told the Global Times that imperfections in the technology and the convenience of QR code payments are keeping people from adopting biometric payments for now. Other technologies, like mobile payment, however, became popular after gradually gaining public acceptance.

Within the next two to three years, the technology will expand significantly, according to Shenzhen-based iiMedia Research CEO Zhang Yi, referring to the extensive use of facial recognition at airports and public transit stations.

“These efforts from the government and the public sector will boost consumer confidence in facial-recognition technology and its ability to protect biometric and critical information,” Zhang told the Global Times.

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