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Banks recognize new technology prospects

By Zhuang Qiange and Jiang Xueqing | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2017-10-15 10:56

Financial players are facing another round of competition along with the daily comparisons of their figures and graphs - the application of facial recognition.

With increasing attention paid to the use of technology in the financial sector, financial players tend to advance their business with new technology such as facial recognition, not only to gain more customers but to offer more possibilities.

"Facial recognition, which has long been used in social networks, has already become a technology mature enough to be used in the financial sector," says Yang Tao, assistant director of the Institute of Finance and Banking at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"It is a wave that all kinds of financial units are trying to catch up with at present, as the technology enhances their ability to reach more customers."

Integrated with more technology being applied in the financial sector, such as big data and blockchain, facial recognition will gain a greater role, Yang adds.

HSBC Holdings PLC, a British multinational banking and financial services holding company, recently launched facial recognition on its mobile banking platform in China, branding itself as the first foreign bank to offer facial recognition for payments in China.

The newly added biometric authentication allows customers to transfer up to 50,000 yuan ($7,590; 6,390 euros; 5,725) per day to new payees by combining facial recognition with their passwords on HSBC's China's mobile banking app, and it frees them from the physical security devices required for such transactions.

HSBC regards it as a move to promote its mobile payment business in China, one of the countries most receptive to new technology.

"Digital technology is rapidly evolving, and customers are now able to bank more simply, quickly and in the most secure way possible," says Andrew Connell, HSBC's retail banking and wealth management head of digital for Asia-Pacific and innovation and partnerships.

"We see a huge growth opportunity in the adoption of technology for retail banking, not just in China but across the Asia-Pacific region and around the world."

Facial recognition ensures that a real person is in front of the camera instead of a picture, which makes it much more secure than fingerprint recognition. According to data from HSBC, the error rate for facial recognition would be around one in a million, while that for fingerprints is around one in 50,000.

HSBC is not the only bank promoting this technology in China. With the technology already mature enough to be put into practice, many banks are now using it as an assistive method to authenticate the identities of customers, such as China Merchants Bank, which has equipped its automated teller machines with a facial recognition system.

Contact the writers at zhuangqiange@chinadaily.com.cn

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