Face-recognition widely used despite safety concerns

2017-09-14 06:47:37 GMT2017-09-14 14:47:37(Beijing Time) Agencies

Everyday use of face-recognition technology is on the rise, from Apple's latest iPhone X to a KFC restaurant in east China's Hangzhou City, and further to the banking sector -- but with it comes a rise in privacy and safety concerns.

The Agricultural Bank of China was the latest to follow the lead of China Merchants Bank in promoting the use of face-recognition in its outlets across the country, although with some limitations. China Merchants Bank allowed customers to withdraw a maximum 3,000 yuan daily from ATMs by first scanning their faces, followed by inputting a mobile phone number and bank account password.

Face-recognition was also increasingly being used during check-in procedures at some airports and railway stations, as well as to allow gate access to high-end office buildings, reported Guangzhou Daily.

Data showed the market size of the facial recognition industry in China exceeded 1 billion yuan ($153 million) in 2016, and was estimated to reach 5.1 billion yuan by 2021. A number of tech start-ups had raised funds in the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in July.

Front runners in the industry have played down safety risks. Chen Jidong, in charge of biometric identification technology at Ant Financial, said Alipay's system ensured a success rate much higher than the naked eye, and it could also verify if facial information collected had come from a picture, video or real person.

A bank source said face-technology has increased safety, as users are required to verify their phone numbers and passwords even after passing the face-scan stage.

In case of fraud, a lawyer in Beijing said it's hard to demand that banks take full responsibility for financial losses because customers were also responsible for protecting their own bank account passwords. Currently, Alipay's facial recognition payment solution was fully insured.

Users were also reminded that significant facelifts might affect the accuracy of the technology, and file photos used to verify identity might need updating as a person's facial information varied over time.

To mitigate privacy concerns, it was suggested that only facial features of customers, rather than actual photos, be saved. The government was also being urged to help introduce industry rules to regulate the sector.

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