Can selfies be the new face of mobile payment? Alibaba thinks so

19 Mar 2015

In a surprising end to his presentation at the CeBit conference in Hanover, Germany, Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun showed the world his company’s new facial-recognition technology.

Before leaving the stage, Ma told the audience he wanted them to see a “small innovative product that we have designed”.

With that he showed them a selfie service that can be used to pay for goods or services, and purchased a souvenir stamp for the mayor of Hanover, to be delivered “in six days”.

“Online payments to buy things is always a big headache,” he said, as reported in the South China Morning Post. “You forget your password, you worry about security, today we’ll show you a new technology, how people in the future will buy things online.”

Ant Financial, which runs Alibaba’s Alipay business – a major online payments service in China – is behind the technology.

According to CNBC, Alibaba is looking to improve on the current verification modes out there, such as Apple’s fingerprint ID or other variants on the two-step processes.

“One system would allow a user to confirm a purchase by speaking a trigger phrase, and another solution, called ‘Kong Fu’ would let a customer verify a payment by scanning something like a tattoo or even a pet,” CNBC reported.

Either way, the company is certainly thinking outside the box.


Selfie image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic