Rather than fumbling to enter passwords or pin numbers to bag the best buys, eager consumers in their millions deployed biometrics – 60.3% of them paid either by taking a selfie, or scanning a fingerprint.
The figure, reported by TechCrunch, comes from Alipay, the Alibaba digital wallet affiliate, which collected the numbers for the first time.
The ease with which consumers were able to pay is perhaps one reason why the total haul on the Singles’ Day sales event this year set a new record of $30.8bn.
Alipay handles online and offline payments for 870 million users globally. Business rival WeChat Pay, available through the Tencent chat app, handles a further 800 million-plus. And both are biometric payment pioneers.
Alipay introduced pay-by-fingerprint in September 2014. Less than a year later, WeChat Pay followed suit. And Chinese consumers have become increasingly familiar with the concept of biometrics, using them, for example, to unlock phones and access business premises.
Two years ago, 95% of people said they knew about fingerprint recognition when asked by China’s Payment and Clearing Association (CPCA). Payment by selfie, which employs more sophisticated technology than fingerprint recognition, quickly followed.
And, in 2017, Alipay began a smile-to-pay scheme at a KFC in Hangzhou, where Alibaba and Alipay are based. Since then, facial recognition technology has been rolled out by Alipay for a number of purposes, such as parcel pickups, Techcrunch noted.
Face recognition has also been deployed by the Chinese government, using data from 170 million CCTV cameras to scan faces in large crowds and check them against a database of people wanted by the authorities.
While the Chinese public is increasingly happy to pay using biometrics, people are also growing more concerned about privacy and security issues, survey figures show.
In 2016, just over 70% of people were comfortable to pay with biometrics, according to CPCA research, rising to 85% a year later. Ove the same period the proportion of respondents citing security as a concern over biometric payments grew from 50% to 70%.
Sourced from TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff