A TikTok video spotted by Chinese technology expert Matthew Brennan shows how facial recognition is seeping into everyday life in China.
Brennan posted what appears to be a Chinese TikTok video to Twitter, showing a young woman buying a drink from a vending machine using only facial recognition as payment verification. At no point does she pay with card, cash, or her phone.
The video shows the woman walking up to the machine, standing in front of it for her identity to be verified, then opening the vending machine door to retrieve a drink.
Business Insider has contacted Brennan for confirmation.
Facial recognition is widely used in China by law enforcement, and has been tied to China’s social credit system. It has become so ubiquitous that protesters against the Chinese government in Hong Kong have been using laser pointers to prevent government cameras from identifying them.
Although buying a soda from a vending machine may seem a pretty innocuous by comparison, another video previously spotted by Brennan shows that non-Chinese people are not able to access the payment system on the machine, and so can’t buy anything from it. The reasoning, according to Brennan, is that person doesn’t hold ID issued by mainland China.
The use of facial recognition payments has been picking up speed according to a July article from the South China Post. These are in part facilitated by the ubiquity of apps like WeChat and Alipay, which are used on a day-to-day basis by the population. According to the South China Post (which is owned by Alipay’s parent company Alibaba) Alipay has now installed its Dragonfly facial recognition system in over 300 cities in China after rolling it out late last year.
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