China’s Biometric Payment Scheme

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has endorsed an E-Commerce biometric authentication program based on the shopper transmitting a selfie. Dubbed “face swapping,” officials described a system that “can detect a face in only a few seconds and the accuracy rate is 99.8 percent. According to CAS, the system can also distinguish between faces of twins and people do not have to worry if they ever gain or lose weight as the system can still detect subtle changes in faces,” according to a report in Payment Week.

The mobile app will be available for download next year.

The initial report didn’t make clear how the system would know that the photo was indeed of the authorized shopper, as opposed to an image a thief might have obtained of a victim. Presumably, a timestamp—showing that the photo was shot at the time of the transaction—and geolocation data (showing that the photo was shot where the mobile transaction was being attempted) could address some of those issues, but it’s unclear what would prevent someone from stealing a victim’s payment data and then shooting the victim’s picture and quickly making an online transaction.

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