Chinese payment platform Alipay will launch facial recognition payment services at 300 bakeries in Beijing, showing traditional retailers’ resolve in adopting new technologies.
Popular bakery brand Wedome on Thursday said that all its customers would be able to pay their bills by scanning their faces when shopping at its Beijing stores. The so-called “Smile-to-Pay” solution, provided by Alipay, has so far been deployed at a number of branches in the city and will later be accessible in over 300 shops in the nation’s capital.
Users are required to authenticate their identity via SMS when using the service for the first time. The recognition process takes up to 10 seconds, Alipay operator Ant Financial said in a statement.
However, a spokesperson from the company told TechNode that customers would be asked to verify their identity on their phones if the system detects “risky” surroundings—those that could pose a threat to a user’s property and facial data.
“The system extracts the minimum amount of facial feature data necessary to verify the payment, and cannot be accessed by merchants,” the spokesperson said.
This is not the first time Alibaba has teamed up retailers and restaurant to offer facial recognition payment services. Thai supermarket chain CP Lotus became its first partner utilizing the service in the Chinese market. It has also been introduced in all Alipay self-service point-of-sales terminals, including those in the Yum China’s KPRO stores in Hangzhou.
Alipay’s “Smile-to-Pay” solution debuted in 2015. The company announced a major upgrade earlier this month during its Open Day event in Shanghai, with the launch of a miniaturized version of the product.
Facial recognition technology is widely used in both for commercial and government purposes in China. In September, Tencent launched facial verification services to crack down on excessive gaming by minors. Last month, Shenzhen police “upgraded” their online WeChat services, allowing Chinese users to scan their faces rather than enter passwords to access public services.