The People’s Republic of China is moving “beyond” the use of smart phones for making on-the-spot retail payments, starting to supplant that with facial recognition—with personal images tied to personal financial accounts.
Ant Financial Services Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd, rivals that operate, respectively, Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s two largest mobile-payments networks, are competing for dominance in the next stage of China’s cashless society. Each is racing to install its own branded facial-recognition screens at retail points-of-sale all over the country, marketing the screens as a way to speed up sales and improve efficiency.
Marketing the screens as a way to speed up sales and improve efficiency. A way to speed up and broaden PRC government knowledge of what its citizens are doing, where they are going, what they’re spending their money on, where they have their money, also. In fine, a way to extend the PRC’s ability to control, not just the population over which it reigns, or subgroups of it, but down to the individual level. George Orwell knew about this, and about the debilitation it inflicts on liberty, even on moral and on morale.
This is not an advance over smart phone payments. Not at all.