An iconic shopping street in Wenzhou, a city in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, has become the first in the country to extensively apply facial recognition technology in making payments.
The municipal government of Wenzhou, known as the cradle for domestic private entrepreneurship, has joined with Ant Financial, operator of China’s biggest online payment platform Alipay, and e-commerce giant Alibaba through an agreement signed in May 2015 to jointly develop “a smart business area.”
Wuma (Five-horse) Street was given priority in expanding “paying with your face.” Some 20 stores along the street have been equipped with the Alipay system called Dragonfly.
In one of the stores, customers can look at the iPad-sized Alipay device to complete payment in less than 10 seconds. Store manager Nan Hai said mobile payments have become very popular and save the trouble of counting pennies.
Mao Xinqin, director of the street’s administration, said facial recognition payments can improve efficiency during the peak season for tourism and shopping.
Yang Peng, vice-president of Ant Financial, said Alipay has upgraded the payment system using a 3D structured light camera and has an accuracy rate of 99.99 percent.
Other shopping areas in the city will also increase the use of facial recognition for payments, according to the plan.
Wenzhou wants to transform traditional business models using advanced digital technology from big companies like Alibaba, said Dai Wenhu, deputy head of the city’s bureau of commerce. The project that uses hardware for merchants to support mobile payments can also gain a precise understanding of customer needs.
The city has also worked with Ant Financial to develop a system to evaluate the financial credibility of small and medium-sized companies.
Ye Xinming, deputy director of Wenzhou Financial Office, said companies enjoying sound business conditions will be given priority in obtaining various preferential policies and services such as loans from banks and marketing subsidies from Alipay.