WeChat Pay showcased a new payment device, the “Frog Pro,” at the Chongqing Smart China Expo on Monday in a bid to upgrade its offline payments. The new point-of-sale (POS) machine allows shoppers to pay by scanning their face at checkout.
Why it matters: China has been quick to embrace facial recognition technology, which is already being used for making payments at supermarkets and checking in at hotels. Face scan payment is becoming more prevalent as companies increasingly integrate online and offline retail as a tool to drive marketing initiatives.
- WeChat Pay rival Alipay rolled out facial recognition payment system Dragonfly late last year, which has been deployed in more than 300 cities across China.
Details: The Frog Pro is equipped with 10.1-inch double-sided screen, a 3D depth-sensing camera for the facial recognition payment function, and a QR code scanner.
- WeChat Pay also introduced new features including one that allows shoppers to join a membership program by simply scanning their face, which has been tested at retail chains such as Jiatian and Meiyijia.
- The double-sided screen allows businesses to push promotions more easily, according to the company. The cashier can display the QR code of its official account or new product information at checkout on the back screen.
- Frog Pro is integrated with different WeChat features such as mini-programs, wallet, official accounts, and group chats. The company said the Pro version is further opening up offline use case scenarios for payments.
Context: WeChat Pay has been quietly testing facial recognition payment solutions at retail outlets in China. However, Alipay launched its facial recognition system two years ago.
- According to a Chinese media MPayPass, WeChat has been promoting early versions of WeChat Frog and testing thousands of devices at different retail locations.
- The company has not disclosed when WeChat Frog will launch, and did not immediately respond to TechNode inquiries on Tuesday.
- Aside from the WeChat Frog Pro, the payment giant has introduced two other versions of WeChat Frog suited for different retail scenarios including WeChat Basic for shops with limited physical space and the portable WeChat Frog Mini for businesses like restaurants.
- WeChat Pay says it processes a billion transactions daily, connecting 50 million merchants and businesses in China.
- Ant Financial’s Alipay launched the “Smile to Pay” facial recognition system in September 2017 for commercial use. The company is planning to spend RMB 3 billion (around $448 million) in promoting the POS face-scan payment system alone.