Alipay, the Alibaba Group unit that is China’s largest electronic payments service, is now rolling out biometric authentication with its service.
The company held a conference Wednesday (Oct. 15) to introduce its initial biometric approach, which is using fingerprints. “In the factory-turned-event space in Beijing where the conference was being held, Alipay set up a store cashier equipped with fingerprint sensors, where people could pay for goods using Alipay Wallet’s biometric-identification feature,” reported The Wall Street Journal.
But its biometrics efforts certainly don’t stop at fingerprints, with Alipay developing facial recognition authentication with a Beijing startup called Megvii. “The advantage of facial recognition is that, unlike fingerprint identification, it doesn’t require any special hardware, according to Megvii co-founder Qi Yin, who spoke at the conference Wednesday. All it requires is a camera, which most smartphones have, he said,” the story said. “One challenge for facial recognition, however, has been its accuracy. Traditionally, most facial identification methods have only achieved about 70 percent accuracy, but Megvii claims that it has achieved 91 percent with its new technology. For now, Megvii is working on integrating facial identification into Alipay Wallet’s account-creation and verification process, rather than the actual payment process, Qi said.”
In other Alibaba payments news, the E-Commerce operation is consolidating six business into a single business unit, with a goal of strengthening it’s financial services position.
“The six subsidiary companies comprise Alipay and Alipay Wallet, Yu’e Bao, a money market fund with 570 billion yuan ($93 billion) under management; Zhao Cai Bao, a third-party financial services platform; micro-loan provider Ant Micro; and MYBank, a private bank. Fresh from a successful multi-billion dollar IPO, Alibaba has made no secret of its intentions to disrupt the traditional finances services industry through the use of Web technology. The MYBank unit was set up after the company successfully applied for a banking license from Chinese authorities in September, while Alipay is recognised as a powerhouse in online payment processing,” according to a report in Finextra. “The rebranded business roll-up has been re-named as Ant Financial, to symbolize the ability of smaller entitites to work together towards a common goal. The various business operations of Ant Financial are supported by cloud computing, big data and credit systems. The company says it will open up these supporting platforms to partners to create a new financial ecosystem.”