In Hangzhou, home to Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding, something has happened at the First People’s Hospital of Yuhang.
Gone are the long lines of waiting patients that have been a symbol of public health care in Chinese cities. Even the payment counter has only a few people awaiting their turn.
The hospital treated the problem by adopting facial recognition for everything from booking doctor appointments to paying for care.
The change shows how mobile payments continue to evolve in China as annual transactions reach 178 trillion yuan ($25.1 trillion), a private sector study found, expanding from meals at food stalls to car purchases and medical services.
Alibaba and rival Tencent Holdings each boast about 1 billion users of their payment platforms, which account for 90% of total mobile transactions. They have spurred a shift away from cash and spawned countless businesses that rely on this new financial infrastructure.
The hospital’s facial recognition system is an offshoot of Alipay, the online payment platform of Alibaba.
Combining insurance cards, smartphone payments and facial data lets patients make appointments in 30 seconds via phone. The service has installed a camera for facial authentication in each examination room and alm