While Alibaba hasn’t launched its “smile to pay” mobile payments service — which effectively turns a selfie into a payment authentication tool — the startup behind the facial recognition technology that would power that service has raised $25 million.
Face++, the Chinese startup, is the company Alibaba’s Ant Financial (Alibaba’s financial arm) plans to use for its Alipay mobile payment service. This new funding brings the company’s total funding raised to $47 million, TechCrunch reported. The initial investors, Qiming Venture Partners and Innovation Works, joined back for the most recent funding.
In an interview with CNBC in March, Alibaba founder Jack Ma discussed why the company was looking into the new facial recognition tech as the next wave of how to pay. Ma said in March the technology was still in beta testing, but said he was confident that biometrics would be included in how people are using their smartphones to pay.
“Online payments are always a big headache. You forget your password…you worry about security,” Ma said.
Biometrics in the world of mobile payments is becoming the next big high tech investment some tech companies are looking into. While Apple has its TouchID, many companies are looking into how a person’s voice or even eye scan could provide the portal as the next payment option. Like Ma said, passwords and online payments aren’t always convenient, and many companies are looking for quicker and more secure options. Particularly when it comes to protecting payment options from fraud, biometrics is being reviewed as a possible option to help.
Alibaba is currently hoping it will receive the necessary regulatory approval to actually implement Face++ into its mobile payment option when it comes to linking the payments with online bank accounts, reported TechCrunch, which also cited research from the Biometrics Research Group that says the biometrics market is expected to grow to $15 billion in 2015. While fingerprint ID will still be the most prevalent — at least for the near future — it’s also predicted that facial recognition technology will become more popular.