China’s obsession with looking good is filtering into facial-recognition payments

China, the world’s third-largest consumer of plastic surgery and an avid user of beauty filters on photo and video apps, is bringing self-enhancement into the financial domain.

Alipay, the mobile payment arm of fintech giant Ant Financial, said on Tuesday (July 2) that, by popular demand, it would soon adopt beautifying filters (in Chinese) in its facial-recognition payment systems at retail locations across the nation. The announcement comes after a recent poll (in Chinese) held by tech news portal Sina Technology that asked people whether scanning their faces when making payments made them feel ugly. Over 60% of the more than 40,000 respondents said “yes.”

“I have noticed you guys think I made you look ugly. Alipay will roll out beautifying filters for all of its offline facial-recognition payment systems within a week’s time: be ware you’ll then look even better than in a beauty camera!” the official account of Alipay said on social media platform Weibo, part of Sina. The system will still use unretouched images of users for processing, according to the company, but customers will see a beautified version of themselves at the digital till for the brief seconds when they scan their faces. It also said it has already incorporated such filters in its mobile phone app.

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