Paying for groceries in a growing number of stores in China requires neither cash, credit cards, or phone. Just a face to scan. Now, thanks to an Alipay device that plays on our narcissism, the scanned face might look more attractive on the scanning device than in a mirror. 

Alipay is rolling out a new function for its facial-recognition payment device nationwide: an automatic beauty filter that’s similar to what people are using when retouching selfies. Almost 60% of users think they look “ugly” on an unfiltered scanning screen, according to a social media survey of 45,000 participants. The filter, arriving next week, will not interfere with the core technology, but will provide more flattering images when users scan their faces. 

The Chinese payment market is dominated by Alibaba and Tencent. Alipay, which belongs to Alibaba-backed Ant Financial, has a 53% share of the payment market while Tencent’s WeChat payment has 39%, according to a ZOL story citing Chinese industry report company Analysys. 

  • Shortly after Alipay introduced the facial-recognition device Dragonfly in December, WeChat rolled out a similar one called Frog in March; both sell for $290. 
  • Facial recognition payments are soaring with Dragonfly’s beauty filter, according to a HZDaily story citing data from Alipay. 
  • Alipay claims that facial recognition payments are used in 300 Chinese cities, and are popular in grocery stores, restaurants, and hospitals. 
  • Karma Takeaway: Chinese payment companies are putting more efforts in speeding up face-to-face payments such as those in malls and movie theaters, which is being largely ignored by American fintech companies.