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AliPay Adds Image Retouching Feature to Facial Checkout Tablet
COVID-19 and China

If you think it is already convenient enough to pay with your mobile phone rather than with cash in your wallet, think again because there is more to come. When you shop in a Chinese supermarket, you can stand in front of a white tablet created by Ant Financial, Alibaba's financial unit. The tablet scans your face and a few seconds later, you are done with checking out.

Starting late last year, consumers used to paying through a QR code displayed on their smartphone could have their faces scanned for the in-store tablets to ring up their purchases.

Today, Ant Financial announced that it had rolled out a new feature capable of beautifying customer images - their faces will automatically become whiter, smoother and slimmer on the tablet.

The company explained that such move was driven by complaints from female customers. The acceptance of facial payments is significantly lower for female consumers than male consumers and 80% of the female users surveyed said they have not used facial payments due to the lack of photo perfection.

Furthermore, the retouching feature will not affect the accuracy and security of its facial recognition technology, said Ant Financial. Megvii, the computer vision AI unicorn in China, is the provider of Ant Financial's facial recognition technology.

Following AliPay's announcement, almost 600 out of 1,500 respondents in an online survey by Weibo, one of the most popular social websites in China, voted in support of the move while 400 voted indifferent.

While the product upgrade appears to be more or less a marketing gimmick, it reveals the company's ambition to spread its facial recognition payments to more small and midsize retailers and potentially lure more consumers to open accounts on AliPay in exchange for faster checkout.

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