This week, Alibaba founder Jack Ma spoke at the CeBit conference in Hanover, Germany and demonstrated a new service called “Smile to Pay” that would give consumers a password-free way to shop online. It is a Selfie-Powered payment transactions service. Which means, the service would allow users to make a purchase from their mobile phone, then require them to snap a selfie to authenticate the purchase using Alibaba’s facial recognition technology.
Alibaba owns an online payment platform called Alipay. It was launched in 2004 to be used for Taobao, an online marketplace comparable to eBay. In 2011, it was spun off into its own entity under the control of a company called ANT Financial (which in turn was founded by the Alibaba Group). Ma still has a 46 percent stake in Alipay.