Alibaba’s AliPay launches “Smile to Pay”

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‘Smile to Pay’ debuted at a KFC’s new, healthy-food concept restaurant, called KPRO, in Hangzhou, China. It’s AliPay’s new facial-recognition payments technology for commercial use from Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group.

If you walk into many fast food restaurants today you’ll find the infernal self service machines (much fun can be had with by ordering a burger with no bun, no meat, no onion, no mustard or ketchyp and no onion – basically just pickle!). Today in the UK you generally then have to get a debit or credit card out and either tap to pay with contactless or insert your card for a Chip and PIN payment. Now with ‘Smile to Pay’ consumers can literally smile to pay.

Powered by Alipay users can authenticate their payments through a combination of facial scanning and inputting their mobile phone numbers. No need to have your wallet with you or even get your smartphone out of your pocket or handbag, in fact you don’t even need to have your mobile with you.

If you’re worried about someone holding up your photo or trying to use a video of you then don’t. The multistep process of one to two seconds of facial scanning uses a 3D camera and a “live-ness detection algorithm” to guarantee a user’s identity. For example, the algorithm can detect shadows and other features that can only come from living beings, thereby blocking photos or video that might be used by someone trying to hijack a person’s Alipay account. The addition of the phone-number check is intended to further ensure the security of transactions. Nonetheless, Alipay will offer loss coverage in the event of theft of a customer’s Smile to Pay account.

Currently Smile to Pay is effectively in beta as it’s only being offered at the one KPRO outlet, but expect to see it rolled out to more locations and new retail outlets in the near future.


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