China’s subways use payment systems for facial recognition despite growing privacy concerns

China’s subways use payment systems for facial recognition despite growing privacy concerns

5. Dezember 2019 0 Von Horst Buchwald

China’s subways use payment systems for facial recognition despite growing privacy concerns

Shanghai, 5.12.2019

tested. Now Zhengzhou, the capital of the north-eastern province of Henan, is the first to introduce the technology on a large scale.

As of Tuesday, local commuters in Zhengzhou, the capital of the northeastern province of Henan, can board and disembark at any Zhengzhou metro stop with an optional face scan, according to a report in the Henan Daily.

The rollout is taking place as China pushes AI-enabled technology into all areas of life, from finding wanted criminal suspects to saving public toilet paper and verifying the presence of students. Since the start of the trial phase in September, nearly 200,000 commuters have decided to approve face-scan payments with a local Metro Service app, the report says.

While Zhengzhou is one of dozens of Chinese cities to carry out such trials, it is the first country to use the service on its entire metro network. Last week, Beijing launched a quick face-scan security check at one of its metro stations.

With Face-Scan payment methods, commuters do not need to carry cash or use subway cards and smartphones with stored value, making it a hands-free procedure that is particularly convenient when carrying luggage or traveling with children.

However, the increasing use of face scans across China has led to growing concerns about data security and privacy. Last month, a law professor in East China sued a wildlife park for breach of contract and consumer rights after replacing his fingerprint-based access system with a facial recognition system.

On Sunday, China introduced rules requiring that

Telecommunications companies to scan faces of users registering new mobile phone numbers. Previously, registration required only a copy of a person’s identity card. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the new measure would help curb the resale of SIM cards and protect people from unknowingly registering for telephone services if their identities are stolen.

Face-scan payment technology has good prospects in a wide range of applications, according to Chen Jing, a member of the State Council’s Advisory Committee on State Information and former head of the Central Bank’s Technology Department. Some 118 million Chinese have signed up for facial recognition payments this year, compared with 61 million in 2018, according to a report by iiMedia Research last month. By 2022, the research consultancy expects the number of users to exceed 760 million, or about half the country’s population.

Last month, China also established a National Standardization Group for Facial Recognition Technology to study and form industry standards, according to the Chinese AI start-up SenseTime, which leads the group. Other participants include Tencent, China Ping An, Ant Financial and iFlyTek.