Jack Ma reveals Alipay facial recognition tech

Alibaba CEO Jack Ma teased Alipay users with facial recognition software on Sunday that will allow them to pay by scanning their face with a smartphone.

“Smile to Pay”, which is currently in beta mode, is being developed by the e-commerce giant’s financial affiliate Ant Financial for use with the company’s Alipay online payment service and Alipay Wallet.

Ma demonstrated the service during a keynote speech at the CeBit tech trade fair in Hannover, Germany on Sunday. Ma found an old stamp from Hannover on Alibaba.com, scanned his face with his smartphone camera, and announced that the item was on its way to the Mayor of Hannover’s office.

“Smile to Pay” will initially launch in China, but Ma did not specify a release date. An Alibaba spokesperson told CNBC that there are “all sorts of possibilities” surrounding its release in other countries.

Facial recognition technology is a step beyond Apple Pay’s TouchID. Several other providers are focusing on retina scanning to secure their payment tech.

Alibaba is also working on other forms of verification, CNBC reported. One system would allow shoppers to verify a payment by scanning something other than their face, such as a tattoo or a pet. Another would require a trigger phrase to secure the payment.

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