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China's first facial recognition payment-based shopping street opens in Wenzhou | Updated: 2019-01-18 11:06
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A customer has her face scanned by a facial recognition system to pay for her purchase at a store in the century-old neighboring streets, Wuma Street and Chan Street, in Wenzhou city, East China's Zhejiang province, on Jan 16, 2019. [Photo/IC]

A historical shopping street in Wenzhou city, Zhejiang province, has become the first in China to extensively apply facial recognition in making payments.

The government in Wenzhou, a city known as the country's cradle for 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."

The city's iconic Wuma (Five-horse) Street took priority in expanding the innovative way of "paying with your face". Some 20 stores along the street have been equipped with the Alipay system called Dragonfly.

At a local store, 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 can ensure accuracy of 99.99 percent.

Other shopping areas in Wenzhou 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.

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