Say Cheese To The Next Generation Of Mobile Payments

Mobile payments could be about to get a lot more personal under a new facial recognition initiative announced today.

Chinese ecommerce titan Alibaba has launched Smile to Pay, which scans users’ faces via their smartphones in order to verify mobile payments.

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma showed off the technology at the CeBIT event in Hannover, however Smile to Pay, currently being developed by Alibaba’s finance arm, Ant Financial, may not see the light of day until 2017

“You forget your password, you worry about the securities … today we show you a new technology in the future how people can buy things online,” he said.


However, users won’t be forced to smile to authenticate a transaction, Alibaba and Ant Financial spokeswoman Miranda Shek said, with the service able to accurately identify your face no matter what your expression. Even though people often forget passwords, “you can’t forget your face,” Shek said, “It’s amazing that people are having so much fun testing out this technology.”

Facial recognition would move Alibaba ahead of the likes of Apple and Samsung, which so far have only used biometric technology for fingerprint scanning in order to authorise mobile payments.

However Samsung’s smartphones, as well as several from ZTE and LG, are able to use facial recognition in order to tell if a user is looking at their device, and shut down the screen to save power if this is not the case.

All clued up on mobile payments? Try our quiz!

Mike Moore

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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