As explored in the Mintel Trend Guiding Choice, consumers are faced with having too much choice and too little time and are looking for shortcuts to aid in their decision making process. Alibaba’s payment app Alipay addresses this head-on, recently announcing the launch of “Face Swipe,” a new feature that allows users to scan their own faces to log in and make payments.

The new “Face Swipe” feature aims to free users from having to type pass codes every time to make a payment: all users need to do is hold up their phone’s camera to their face to make a quick and easy payment. Face Swipe also allows users who do not own a fingerprint recognition-enabled phone to make quick payments. In addition to Face Swipe, Alipay also announced a new feature called “Shopping Circle” which serves as a mobile guide and wallet when visiting shopping malls.

Streamlining the shopping experience

Chinese mobile online shoppers represent 56.6% of total online shoppers, a near 330% increase from 2011

Chinese consumers have shown strong enthusiasm for shopping online via mobile devices, with mobile online shoppers approaching 56.6% of total online shoppers; according to Mintel’s Online Retailing China 2014 report, this figure only came to 13.2% in 2011. Therefore, expediting the payment process is very important for consumers to have a more secure and enjoyable shopping experience.

Mintel has also observed Alipay gaining great success in China’s mobile payment market. In the six months leading up to August 2014, Alipay was the most used third-party payment service—used by 84% of respondents surveyed—with UnionPay in a distant second place (53%) and Tenpay in third (31%) according to Mintel research.

In a similar fashion, Mintel has seen several mobile payment innovations to help consumers pay faster and easier: Barclaycard in the UK for instance is releasing not one, but three contactless payment devices, while The Power Suit is a garment that allows Australians to pay for items using a built-in contactless payment chip.

Cardless and touchless payment is certainly becoming a mainstream trend for both consumers and retailers around the world. As the payment process seems to be very well perfected, brands everywhere can follow Alibaba’s lead and look into other elements and help consumers streamline their shopping experience.

Philix Liu is a Trends Analyst for the APAC region and is based in Shanghai. His area of focus includes innovation, creative marketing campaigns, new design and other trends related content. He also helps inspire brands and agencies on-site to innovate in the APAC region.

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