Alipay tweaks facial recognition to combat biometric fraud

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Alipay is upgrading its facial recognition technology to make it more accessible to users and to make it harder for crooks to game the system

Alipay's updated “Smile to Pay”, called Dragonfly, is one-tenth the size of an average self-service service that is currently deployed by tens of thousands of merchant across 300 cities in China. Dragonfly is adaptable to a wide array of terminals and unlike the earlier Smile to Pay service, it does not require merchants to overhaul their ERP systems to use it, reports China Daily.

The Dragonfly device includes a 3-D structured light camera to improve the system’s accuracy and features an upgraded processor to speed up checkout payments. The hardware and software innovations allow Dragonfly to prevent forgery even if a user attempts to use still photos or a recorded video to spoof the system, according to Alipay.
Alipay is also targeting small and micro merchants by offering Dragonfly at a cost that's 80 percent lower than traditional self-service POS terminals. Early users include the Jiangxi Provincial Hospital, which has installed 40 of the machines.

Alipay first introduced the Smile to Pay service at a KFC in Hangzhou in eastern China in partnership with Yum China Holdings, the sole operator of KFC restaurants in China. Alipay had first introduced the concept of facial recognition for payment authentication in 2015 at the CeBIT computer trade show in Germany.

Alipay is not the only financial services company using or exploring facial recognition as an authentication tool. In 2015 USAA rolled out facial and voice recognition technology across its entire membership base which lets them access its mobile banking app with a tap of their smartphone camera and a blink when prompted (to prove they're a live person and not a photo). Also Mastercard,'s initial deployment of “Selfie pay” came in 2015 in a pilot with First Tech Credit Union.

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