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Alibaba introduces facial recognition as new payment method

Alibaba has announced a new way to pay for goods on its shopping platform, using facial recognition instead of a password or two-step verification.

Chairman Jack Ma showed off the new technology in the Credit trade-fair at Hanover, Germany, where Ma was showing off some the newest features for Taobao, Tmall and Alipay.

“Online payment to buy things is always a big headache,” he said. “You forget your password, you worry about your security. Today we show you a new technology.”

The system taps into the mobile camera on most devices, setting up a way for virtually any mobile device to be compatible, simply by the user authorising the use of the front facing camera on the phone.

This could be a major new way to pay for goods on Alibaba’s e-commerce branches, considering Alipay has over 300 million users and a lot of them are devoted to Jack Ma’s newest work.

Alibaba did not talk security at the event, simply showing that it is possible to offer face recognition technology on basic smartphones.

Smile to Pay is the newest feature on Alipay, allowing users to move their face to a smile motion in order to send the money. We expect other functions will soon become available for customers to use, not just smiling at the camera.

Alibaba has not given a firm date for the launch of the facial recognition platform, which it will add as an update to Alipay.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.