Alibaba launches VR Pay, gives virtual reality payments the nod

Alibaba launches VR Pay, gives virtual reality payments the nod

Alibaba launches VR Pay, gives virtual reality payments the nod
Alibaba launches VR Pay, gives virtual reality payments the nod

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has developed VR Pay, a payment system that lets shoppers purchase goods through virtual reality (VR) devices simply by nodding their heads.

The new payment system is the latest move by Alibaba to improve its payments process and will be available for purchase by the end of 2016, according to Reuters, which saw the product demo in Shenzhen last week.

Making payments less ‘boring’

The convenient news for shoppers is that they will soon be able to purchase real goods without taking off their VR goggles when browsing in virtual stores. The system identifies users through account logins on any connected devices (smartphones etc.) or via voice recognition software that supposedly recognizes each unique voice.

However, Lin Feng, a senior technology expert at Ant Financial – Alibaba’s finance arm – told Reuters that traditional passwords will still be needed for authentication.

“It is very boring to have to take off your goggles for payment. With this, you will never need to take out your phone,” Feng said.

Related: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks Virtual Reality is the next big thing

VR Pay is not ‘just a toy’

Feng also described how he hoped VR Pay would be “a tool rather than just a toy” through connecting VR goggle makers and app developers in the Alipay payment platform.

It’s an ambitious aim, but with the financial clout of Alibaba behind it Ant Financial has a good chance of success.

The company recently bought US-firm EyeVerify, a maker of optical recognition technology that is used by a number of US banks.

The company is also significant in its own right. According to Reuters, Ant Financial Services Group operates China’s largest online payments service, Alipay, with more than 450 million daily users.

Internet of Business spoke to Chris Brauer, director of innovation at Goldsmiths University, about the likelihood of VR for payments taking off.

Brauer told us that “there’s been a lot of experimentation [of VR] going on, but there hasn’t been necessarily enough people building it into the infrastructure of how they do business.”

“So a move like this to just introduce this as just another payment alternative within all the umbrella of options…just makes sense,” Brauer continued. “The growth of [VR] technologies promises that they’re going to be integrated into every aspect of our lifestyle certainly within the domain of retail.”

Jonathan Duffy, executive director of EMEA at Netclearance shared Brauer’s sentiment in an email to IoB.

“Traditional payments using cash have been declining for years and VR Pay is yet another innovative payment method on the journey to becoming a cashless society,” he said. “Virtual reality shopping malls may seem fanciful, but with the recent launch of PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift it will soon become a part of the shopping landscape.”