Alipay, Huawei Roll Out Biometric Security for Mobile Payments

Users of a new Huawei smartphone equipped with a fingerprint reader will be able to make mobile e-payments without passwords using Alipay’s Wallet app, Alipay said in a press release today.

Biometric security technology built into Huawei’s soon-to-be-launched smartphone, the Mate 7, will be integrated with the Alipay Wallet app, which is China’s top mobile-payment solution with over 100 million users.

The biometric technology, including encryption and authentication managed by Huawei, will allow mobile users to confirm payments for a wide variety of goods and services with their smartphones simply by swiping a digit instead of entering a lengthy code.

Biometric technology such as fingerprint or retina recognition is touted as a more secure and convenient of method of identity authentication. Banks, governments, credit-card companies and mobile phone manufacturers have been exploring possibilities in the industry, but the development path has some potholes. Fingerprint readers on Samsung’s Galaxy 5 and Apple’s iPhone 5 have been successfully hacked, defeating the security function that prevents unauthorized use.

Alipay’s tie-up with Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor by shipment volume, gives the e-payments company a way to fast-track biometric payment technology in China. As a precaution against hackers, Huawei is providing chip-level security for the Mate 7, meaning fingerprint data can be saved and stored on the phone, but the data is encrypted and cannot be accessed.

Huawei will also employ high-level encryption and verification to ensure only approved third-party applications, such as Alipay Wallet, are allowed to access the fingerprint information for transactions.