Facial recognition payment is coming, QR code payment comes to an end?

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Update time : 2019-11-07 13:49:00


Entering 2019, Chinese payment industry has developed relatively quietly. Is it the still water flowing deep, or is it quiet before the explosion? However, we have seen that facial recognition payment has been undercurrent. Will it cause a new round of competition and market changes from layout to breaking out.



The development route of facial recognition payment


From the perspective of technical reserves, biometric has a process of maturity. In particular, face recognition technology has a lot of controversy at the beginning. With the advancement of 3D structured light camera, big data and AI technology, the accuracy of face recognition technology continue to increase, so it can reach commercial standards. Although there is no recognized error rate threshold for face recognition technology, everyone's confidence in face recognition technology is getting firmer. The application of face recognition technology is expanding and developing, and it has a large tending from auxiliary to leading position in the authentication chain.


Alipay is one of the first companies in the industry to deploy face recognition technology. Since 2015, Alipay has taken the lead in applying face recognition technology to users login. This technology has been used for real-name authentication, password recovery, and payment risk verification. On August 15th, 2018, Alipay announced that after the accumulation of experience and technology upgrades, the face payment has already been commercialized, and in the next year, it will popularize the self-service cash register and face payment solution for various business scenarios. On September 1st, 2018, Alipay launched facial recognition payment at the KFC’s KPRO restaurant. You can pay by scanning your face without using a mobile phone. This is the first commercial trial place of face payment in worldwide. It took three years from 2015 to 2018. Since then, face payment has entered a period of rapid development. On December 13, 2018, Alipay released a face-pay product called “Qingting”, which directly reduced the access cost of face payment by 80%, which means that face payment really has a large-scale popular application premise. On April 17, 2019, Alipay announced the launch of the second generation of face payment device "Qingting", based on the offline consumption scene. The price is 1999 RMB, which is nearly 30% lower than the first generation. This also marks the offline face payment device into the "thousand yuan machine" era. On May 9th, 2019, Pony Ma himself also experienced WeChat face payment at Beijing Wanda Plaza, and personally scan his own face for his own device. Some payment agencies have also begun to try to R&D offline payment devices. At the same time, the heat of face payment in Baidu search engine gradually warmed up, and there are many offline agents began to enter this market.


China UnionPay launched a small face payment service in Beijing and Shanghai in December 2018. Cardholders only need to register on the UnionPay app and open the “Face Payment” service, select a UnionPay card as the default payment card to experience the new payment service in the designated store. At the end of April 2019, UnionPay once again announced the progress of the face payment project, and start face payment trial at the Tianjin Modern Vocational and Technical College. In December 2018, Ningbo city took the lead in launching the trial verification of the face payment under the central bank's standard line. Based on the premise of not breaking the existing business rules, using machine learning, image recognition, cryptography and other scientific technological means to enhance the user's payment experience, enhance transaction security protection capabilities.


In terms of banks, China Merchants Bank is the first bank in China to study face recognition technology. At present, the functions of face recognition withdrawal, face recognition transfer and face payment have been introduced by CMB. China Everbright Bank’s face recognition technology is also used in different scenarios such as account login, transfer, online financing, and online application for card. Agricultural Bank of China is pursuing a face-lifting fundraising across the country, and CCB is preparing to using face payments. It is worth noting that in order to ensure the security and reliability of transactions, most mobile phone bank APP can use face recognition for verification individually. However, if a user uses a bank mobile phone APP to conduct transactions such as transfer, face recognition will not be applied separately. It is certified together with other authentication methods such as passwords.




Face payment experience comparison


In general, the commercial value of face payments in near-field payments is much higher than remote payments. In the online scene, we compare the face payment with the QR code payment.


Face payment has certain advantages in efficiency. In the self-service cash register, the entire process from checkout to making payment takes no more than 10 seconds, and the queue waiting is eliminated, which greatly saves time. In the comparison with the QR code payment, the QR code payment needs to generate the QR code, which increases the payment process. However, in the actual scenario, since the consumer can generate the QR code in advance, the efficiency gap may not be large.


The face payment has certain unique experience. In terms of the author's feelings, the experience of face payment is more high-level and more technological. Although this feeling varies from person to person, it may be more attractive to young people. In terms of mobile phone-based QR code payment, the face payment liberates the hands, and does not need to free up the hand to operate the mobile phone to pay; For the face payment, if the face authentication, double-free and limit settings are done in advance, it is more convenient and more friendly to groups such as the elderly.


Face payment has a certain degree of independence in use. Since there is no need for a mobile phone, there is no need to worry about the lack of power or network disconnection of the mobile phone. This may be a pain point for many mobile phones pay consumer. We can see that when using the mobile phone to enter the subway, and the mobile phone is power off and can't scan the QR code or NFC to get out the subway, this happens sometime in the subway. At the end of May 2019, the mobile network in Shanghai was abnormal, and the mobile data network could not be connected, which inevitably affect mobile payment. The face payment is free from the restrictions of the mobile phone, and can be paid without a mobile phone, and the freedom of payment is greatly improved.



Several risk issues for face payment.


Face recognition technology issues for face payment. Identification technology has been improving compared to the past. In particular, the face recognition algorithm has gradually matured, and the mis-recognition rate of the 1:1 comparison can be less than one in 100,000, which is enough to meet the commercial standard. The mis-recognition of people with similar looks, including the "twins" face payment is not well resolved. The application difficulty of face recognition technology is that the application security requirements of the payment link are higher, the offline scene is more complicated, and the open environment and public equipment are more challenging.


It should be pointed out that the security of face payment does not have a qualitative improvement. Because the first face authentication, still based on the original certification system, such as the Ministry of Public Security ID card information system, bank account certification. Therefore, on-site verification when registering an ID card or opening a bank account is still the basis for identity verification. We can see that many high-speed rail stations and airports compare face recognition with the face of an ID card to confirm the identity between the ID card and the person. Face authentication is also based on this logic. The first authentication of the face is also the behavior of face information collection, which is a precondition for face payment. Each face payment is compared with the information of the first face authentication. Only when the client and the account form a unique correspondence, the subsequent payment behavior is formed.


Money stolen in face payment. The bank card needs to be swiped, the QR code needs to be scanned, and the face is directly recognized. It seems to be getting simpler and easier. However, we can see that the card number and password of bank card might be stolen only through side recording or video recording. The receipt code is stolen and scanned by other people on site while using QR code pay. Although this situation is rare, there is currently no good means to prevent it directly.


Since the face payment blocks the medium such as a bank card or a QR code, the face recognition directly becomes a certificate for the associated account and the unlock password. In the case of a password-free and signature-free, the funds can be directly deducted after identified by face recognition. It seems more convenient for criminal to steal money by face payment. Money stolen by QR code pay is limited by the time limit, it needs the victim to retrieve the QR code from the mobile phone. However, there is no such problem in face payment. In the case of double-exemption, if the technology can solve the problem of remote recognition, the face will become an unprotected "receipt code", and criminals can easily steal it. It is a tough choice between safety and convenience. If you can't solve this problem, it will become a blemish for the face payment.


There are two solutions to the problem of money stolen by face payment: First, To solve the problem of money stolen, it needs to compress the distance of face recognition. Now it can realize face recognition in 0.3-3.0 meters, if the distance can be set within 0.3 meters, and this formation of technical mandatory specifications can prevent “money stolen” problem. The problem is that considering the current control of the scanning terminal, if the technical realize 3D scanning in 3 meters, the possibility of criminals taking risks would be higher, and as long as the technical problems are solved, money stolen may be more implemented. It's easier than QR code pay. Of course, this is just an assumption of the author. Another solution is to enter the password while use face payment but the experience will be poor.


Private secret info protect issues in face payment


The first is the leakage of biological face information. The face information has its inherent characteristics, collection methods, and centralized storage characteristics, which lead to a greater risk of information leakage. Biometric data storage is becoming more and more concentrated. Once the hot-applying biometric library is compromised, it can easily lead to large-scale privacy breaches and even systemic risks. The second is because the face recognition information is unique and unchangeable. It’s not like the traditional security method, which can be changed at any time after a password leak or suspected leak. The legendary "face change" does not exist. Third, any data that enters the computer will become a computer code, and biometric data is no exception. If the personal biometric information is leaked, the criminals have mastered the victim's face identification information. Once the data is restored and obtained by criminals such as hackers, can the employee's account and password be directly obtained, so that the funds can be easily stolen.

从现在情况看,刷脸支付最大的问题在于人们对于个人隐私信息的担忧,成为刷脸支付发展进程中的“灰犀牛”。用户生物特征普遍暴露在商场、饭店等各种公共场所,不法分子可通过远程、非接触方式,在用户本人毫无察觉的情况下“无声无息”地非法批量采集生物特征信息。刷脸支付的普遍应用,可能导致个人生物的非法采集和买卖成为新的“黑产业链”。这将引发人们对于个人隐私被非法收集和储存的担忧。这种担忧将比之前的个人隐私更甚。微软目前已经悄然删除其最大的公开人脸识别数据库——MS Celeb。MS Celeb数据库2016年建立,拥有超过1000万张图像,将近10万人的面部信息。微软描述其为世界上最大的公开面部识别数据集,并用于培训全球科技公司和军事研究人员的面部识别系统。

From the current situation, the biggest problem with face payment is that people's concerns about personal privacy information have become the "Grey rhinoceros" in the development process of face payment. User’s biometric is generally exposed to various public places such as shopping malls and restaurants. The criminals can illegally collect biometric information in a remote and non-contact manner without any notice from the user. The widespread application of face payment may cause the illegal collection and sale of personal creatures as a new “black industry chain”. This will raise people’s concerns about the illegal collection and storage of personal privacy. This concern will be even worse than the previous personal privacy. Microsoft has quietly removed its largest public face recognition database, MS Celeb. The MS Celeb database was established in 2016 and has over 10 million images and nearly 100,000 facial information. Microsoft describes it as the world's largest public facial recognition data and is used to train facial recognition systems for global technology companies and military researchers.



Face recognition technology has also caused other controversies. For example, it makes it easy to track personal whereabouts and detect personal behavior, thereby causing massive violations of personal privacy. Today, some law enforcement agencies often rely on this technology to help investigate cases. How to balance the security of urban life and personal privacy has become a problem that many city managers need to solve. In May of this year, San Francisco in the United States issued a decree prohibiting police and other government agencies from using face recognition technology.

It is foreseeable that the controversy over the personal privacy issues arising from the application of face recognition technology will continue to linger, which may cast a shadow over the development prospects of face payment.



Gambling in face payment market.


At present, there is a certain loosening of the policy for applying face recognition technology to payment services. At the end of 2015, the central bank announced the "Notice of the People's Bank of China on Improving Personal Bank Account Services to Strengthen Account Management", proposing that "when providing personal bank account opening services, conditional banks can explore biometric and other safe and effective technical means as an auxiliary means to verify the identity information of the applicant. In 2017, the People's Bank of China issued the “Guiding Opinions of the People's Bank of China on Optimizing Enterprise Account Opening Services” to encourage banks to actively use technical means to improve account review, including encouraging banks to identify faces, optical character recognition (OCR), and QR codes. The technical means are embedded in the account opening business process as an auxiliary means for reading, collecting and verifying customer identity information and account opening business processing. However, the emphasis here is taking biometric as an aid to the processing of account opening. If the face recognition technology is used instead of the identification or password verification, even open account remotely, it seems that there is no “opening” in the policy.

在监管部门态度未明的情况下,支付宝有着“all in”的决心和勇气。因为在二维码支付的赛道上,支付宝不具有优势。而微信支付的杀器就是依托微信这一强大的社交软件。因此,支付宝必须换一条赛道。刷脸支付由于不依赖于手机,摆脱了微信强大的优势,有助于其在零售支付领域重新获得新的优势。

With the unclear attitude of the regulator, Alipay has the “all in” determination and courage. Because on the track of QR code pay, Alipay does not have the advantage. WeChat payment is based on WeChat, a powerful social software. Therefore, Alipay must change a track. Face payment is not based on mobile phones, gets rid of the strong advantages of WeChat and helps it regain new advantages in the field of retail payment.


Therefore, Alipay began to invest huge sums of money in the face payment. According to the exhibitors at the "2019 China Smart Business Informatization Exhibition", Alipay’s promotion strategy is: sell “Qingting” to the merchant at a original price, the merchant activates the equipment to generate the first effective transaction and then get a subsidy of 240 yuan. After 30 consecutive days, the subsidy will be awarded according to the number of valid de-duplicated users generated on the daily equipment. The maximum daily incentive amount is 240 yuan. In other words, after the merchant spends 2,688 yuan to purchase this equipment, it can get a subsidy of up to 7,200 yuan, and the net profit is nearly 5,000 yuan.


WeChat payment seems to be somewhat hesitant. Of course, since your competitor has took a bet, you must follow it, but how much is a choice. Tencent takes its consistent follow-up strategy. Tencent may think that it is not the time to follow up on a large scale. After all, the policy prospects for face payment are still somewhat uncertain. The input-output rate of developing face payment habits is still uncertain, or Tencent believes that the advantages of QR code payment cannot be shaken in the short term. However, does this follow-up strategy work on the face payment track? Currently, compared to QR code payment, the hardware cost of face payment is still relatively high, and it takes up space. Therefore, its application scenario is not rich as QR code payment. We can observe that in the scenes of supermarkets, restaurants and convenience stores, the cashier space is limited, and even the face-paying devices like PAD will feel cramped. It would be difficult to deploy two devices that are even the size of a PAD at the same time. So, in this case, it seems that the first mover advantage becomes more important.


In the era of QR code payment, almost every store has posted the code of WeChat and Alipay at the same time, or simply aggregated payment QR code. This picture may no longer exist in the era of face payment. There is a view that face payment is exclusive and it is difficult to make aggregate payments. The choice of the QR code era is in the hands of consumers, about which payment method to choose, and the choice of face payment is in the hands of the merchant.


The closed-end feature of the face payment is more obvious,and the difficulty of uniting is getting bigger. The bank card is universal after connecting to the network, and the QR code payment can be commonly used in the universal code. The payment medium directly becomes a biometric in face payment, it is no longer the aggregation of the medium, but may become the identification terminal aggregation, and a hardware aggregation different recognition system and information channels, then routing different channels. But the aggregation of hardware can be more difficult. The premise of offline face payment is to complete the password-free payment and face information verification in the special software by user online. Under this premise, the use of hardware devices can become a guide for software downloads, but the popularity of software will also become an important consideration when choosing hardware.


The high probability event is to reignite a new round of enclosure wars, everyone wants to lock more merchants. When the market structure stabilizes, whether it is regulatory guidance or market spontaneous, it will form a payment aggregation to prevent the emergence of “one cabinet and multiple machines” and consumers are being "kidnapped" and other issues.


Another question that needs to be considered is whether the habit of face payment can be raised by money like QR code payment. We think it can work. However, workable doesn’t mean at any cost. It may cost more money to cultivate the habit of face payment than QR code payment. This will involve a game between market players.





Accelerate the establishment of standards and business specifications for face recognition technology. Such as the scanning distance of 3D structured light camera, the payment limit of face payment, and the forbidden link or scene of face payment application.


Establish detection and certification for the card payment acceptance terminal. Since the acceptance terminal implements face recognition and involves the collection of biological information, it is necessary to strengthen the protection and control of the private information. This requires enhanced testing and certification of the hardware and software standards of the acceptance terminal, and clarifies the threshold for access and use.


Strengthening control over the collection of facial biological information by market institutions. In particular, the transmission and storage security level of face information should be enhanced . It is recommended to encrypt the transmission and storage of biometric information.


It is recommended to promote the establishment of a national-level biometric information management platform. To evaluate the impact of hundreds of millions of user face information for users and national information security, a bio-information information management platform based on distributed and encryption technology is providing a unified verification service for biometric identification.


Promote the openness and aggregation of face payment. The core of face recognition technology is the algorithm, which is to promote the openness of the face recognition underlying technology and the output of the algorithm. Meanwhile in the acceptance face payment terminal, it is necessary to promote hardware aggregation and software interoperability, and to prevent monopoly and closed loop.


In short, face payment is very interesting, with high topicality and market subversive ability. For example, if the face payment is popular, will it become a “militia” of the Ministry of Public Security’s Sky System, and criminals may be submerged in the sea of people’s war. Because there may be tens of millions of face recognition terminals, you need to use face recognition when you buy something, and criminals may cry in the corner. However, the face payment involve face recognition, the problem of the protection of personal privacy information will be lingering. Therefore, the policy for face payment is still unclear, but with the competition and promotion of several giants, the market prospects are promising. The face payment will advance in the controversy, improved in the norms, and developed in innovation. Whether face payment can bring the new hot-spot in retail payment, let us wait and see.

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