Briefing: Ant Financial to spend RMB 3 billion to promote face-scanning payment device

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Alipay to Spend USD448 Million Plugging New Face Scanner – Yicai Global

What happened: Ant Financial is pledging RMB 3 billion ($448 million) to promote its point-of-sale (POS) payment device “Dragonfly” that allows Alipay users to pay using their only their faces. Alibaba’s fintech arm released the second generation of Dragonfly earlier this week, which boasts a lower price and improved hardware design. The new version is 30% cheaper than its predecessor at RMB 1,999. As part of the promotion, the company is offering pre-sale discounts and incentives of up to RMB 1,200 to encourage adoption among merchants.

Why it’s important: Ant Financial first debuted the “smile-to-pay” facial recognition system in September 2017 for commercial use and then replaced it with the Dragonfly POS system in December 2018. It has been expanding the rollout of its facial recognition payment device. Dragonfly POS devices have been deployed in more than 300 cities across China since its launch. Earlier this month, it was introduced outside of the mainland for the first time in Hong Kong. The technology will likely become more prevalent in the country now that it is being experimented in public transportation and shopping streets. Alipay, one of China’s largest mobile payment apps, has more than 900 million active users worldwide as of November 2018.