Briefing: Alipay’s facial recognition payment system expands to China’s lower-tier cities

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刷脸支付进入五线城市 三巨头加持物联网“飞”到百姓身边 – Securities Daily

What happened: Facial recognition payment systems can now be found inside the supermarkets of lower-tier cities in China. As spotted by Securities Daily, customers can now use Alipay’s “Smile to Pay” system when purchasing groceries at supermarkets in Xinzheng, a fifth-tier city located south of Henan Province’s capital Zhengzhou. According to a supermarket employee, the payment system was launched a month ago.

Why it’s important: Alipay, operated by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, has been improving its facial recognition payment technology since it trialed the beta version of Smile to Pay in 2015. The company then launched the technology for commercial use in September 2017. Facial recognition is expected to become a mainstream payment method in China in the near future, and Ant Financial is not the only player in the field eager to lead in this area. Rival WeChat Pay has already implemented the payment system in various industries. Last December, Chinese bank card service provider UnionPay also implemented similar technology in convenience stores in Shanghai and Beijing.