Chinese technology firm Tencent is rolling out a new payment service that allows users to conduct transactions with the palm of their hand.
The new palm payment method is available through the company’s WeChat Pay service, known domestically in China as Weixin Pay. Users are currently able to pay for items and services using biometric data from their palms but there are plans to expand the service further.
The recent introduction of the new technology has fuelled speculation that a similar payment method might be adopted outside of China. Although proponents of biometric payment methods emphasize convenience and security, critics are worried about potential privacy breaches and corporate or government overreach that the new technology could facilitate.
Tencent introduces palm payment method
WeChat is an immensely popular Chinese messaging app, social media platform, and payment service which became the largest standalone mobile app in 2018 with over one billion monthly active users.
The new payment method was initially rolled out at metro stations. Individuals who choose to participate in the palm-recognition service have the option to make payments for rides on the Daxing Airport Express Line by simply placing their hands over a scanner located at the turnstiles in metro stations.
When a person’s distinct palm print is identified, the system automatically deducts the payment from their WeChat account. To sign up for this service, individuals need to have their palm prints captured at a specific machine found within a metro station. Once registered, passengers can conveniently use their palms at turnstiles marked with a green circle.
Tencent has plans to expand the palm payment method to be applicable to more items and services, such as those available in offices, campuses, retailers, and restaurants across mainland China.
Proponents and detractors
Those who are in favor of the new palm payment method and other biometric payment methods argue that emerging technologies like these will make transactions more convenient by eliminating the need to carry physical money or payment cards.
However, critics are concerned that biometric payment methods might be used by governments and corporations to track the transactions and whereabouts of individuals in violation of their privacy rights.
“This palm technology, biometric recognition, this just gives Beijing even more information about people in China,” Chinese expert Gordan Chang told Fox News Digital. “The state is becoming more effective because it will actually force companies like Tencent to offer these biometric recognition systems and these companies will then try to get people to use them.”