Alibaba Unveils ‘Smile to Pay’ as Latest Biometrics Approach for M-Payments (March 17, 2015)
Alibaba Founder Jack Ma this week wowed the audience at a computer technology conference in Germany with a live demonstration of “Smile to Pay,” a facial recognition technology the China-based e-commerce giant is developing for mobile shopping and payments. During a presentation on Sunday at CeBIT in Hannover, Ma showed attendees how he used his smartphone to search for a product on Alibaba, pressed the “buy” button, and scanned his face using his phone to complete the transaction. A second later, Alibaba confirmed the transaction by sending a notification to Ma’s phone.
“Smile to Pay,” is still in beta mode, and Ma didn’t disclose when it would be available. But his comments leading into the demonstration suggest he has high hopes for the facial recognition technology to improve security and reduce friction for online payments. “Online payments to buy things is always a big headache,” Ma reportedly told the crowd. “You forget your password, you worry about security. Today we’ll show you a new technology, how in the future people will buy things online.”
As fraud persists—and steadily migrates to the mobile channel—the payments industry is exploring a variety of biometrics approaches to increase security and authenticate users. “Biometrics authentication is one of the best ways to stop the fraudsters,” Michael Boukadakis, founder and CEO of Enacomm, explained in a recent Paybefore blog. Observers say Apple Inc.’s integration of its Touch ID fingerprint sensor into Apple Pay aided its quick consumer uptake, and many suggest it’s still early days for discovering the role biometrics may eventually play in securing payments.
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