LIVE FROM PAYEXPO EUROPE, LONDON: Biometric authentication offers great potential to enhance customer experience in mobile payments, Alipay EMEA business development director Tao Tao said.

The executive made the comment as he revealed the company is currently investigating the use of iris recognition and said it had conducted a number of trials into the potential of other biometric technologies to approve transactions made on its platform.

Tao said the company had made “big investments” in iris recognition (its parent Ant Financial acquired eye-based authentication technology provider EyeVerify in September 2016, for example) and he sees a strong future in the technology, in addition to fingerprint and facial recognition technology the company is currently testing in areas of China.

Discussing the use of biometrics to verify users and make transactions smoother, Tao said: “It will come eventually, but the user experience is very important, and how we educate the consumer is a question for the whole ecosystem.”

In a session dedicated to the progress of retail payments in Europe, Tao said consumers in the US and Europe were “completely different” to China – where Alipay and rival WeChat Pay have driven mobile payments into the mainstream.

One of the reasons for rapid adoption in China was Alipay’s ability to leverage the reputation and wealth of user data built-up by affiliate e-commerce company Alibaba, which had been in operation since 1999.

Tao said this gave the company the opportunity to keep customers in a “closed-loop” ecosystem and better tailor services.