WeChat makes facial recog payment systems talk to the hand

Wave-to-pay tech seems ideal for Jedi cosplay – if palmprints and veins are the biometrics you're looking for

Chinese microblogging site WeChat has launched the ability to make payments by swiping the palm of a hand over facial recognition devices.

After binding a WeChat account to the device and putting a palm print on record, users simply wave at a camera-embedded scanning surface to complete a purchase. The system recognizes the palm prints, veins, how one stretches their hand and other characteristics.

According to the Tencent-owned app, the feature works in various lighting conditions and adapts to physiological differences in palm prints.

"Young and old can brush," states WeChat marketing material.

The tech can also be used for boarding transport, proving attendance – for example at school, work or events – and in place of a membership card when entering places like a gym.

The biometric palm identification payment system has already been tested in Shenzhen and, according to reports, was slow to develop due to a lack of training data.

However, if the technology was ever to get a boost in development it would be over the past few years as COVID measures, including the preference to not touch surfaces and to cover faces with masks, lingered in the Middle Kingdom.

WeChat is not the first to explore palm recognition. Amazon was testing it in 2020, calling it Amazon One. The technology is still around in select stores, including some Whole Foods, but US lawmakers have expressed skepticism.

In March, Amazon announced that Panera Bread had joined as the first national restaurant company to accept the payment system and use it to log loyalty points. By the end of 2023, it expects to have 10 to 20 outlets equipped for the wave and pay method.

Biometric palm payment may improve on facial recognition. After all, people don't tend to put pictures of their palms across social media, nor do they often have cosmetic surgery on their palms that might disrupt machines' ability to detect their modified mugs.

Still, there are plenty of security concerns. Waving a hand can be a harmless gesture people don't think about but could be filmed doing. And similar to a face but unlike a credit card, a person can't change their palm just because someone has stolen their information.

According to Business of Apps,, WePay has over 900 million users and has surpassed AliPay to become the most popular Chinese payment service. Almost every shop in China accepts at least one of the two systems.

The addition of contactless payment based on palm recognition could make the rivalry even more interesting. ®

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