Alibaba Showcases Pay-With-Your-Face Technology at CeBIT

China’s Internet tycoon Jack Ma, founder of giant online merchant Alibaba, gave a glimpse of the future when he demonstrated a new e-payment system using facial recognition at the CeBIT IT fair in Germany.

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Criss-crossing the stage in the style of a Silicon Valley pioneer late Sunday, Ma showed off the technology that uses facial recognition from a smartphone camera selfie as a digital signature, saying he had just used it to send a gift to the mayor of the event’s host city of Hanover.

Ma, a former teacher, is known for thinking big, and at this week’s CeBIT he was the keynote speaker, addressing an audience that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Like many other companies from the event’s official partner country China, Alibaba flush with cash from a massive stock listing is looking beyond the borders of its huge domestic market of 1.2 billion people, to the world.Ma enthused that, while the industrial revolution freed workers from hard labour, the digital “revolution… liberates the strength of the human brain”.”It’s not the technology that can change the world, it’s the dreams behind the technology that change the world,” the 50-year-old told the audience, adding that his dream was to help small enterprises sell on a global market.Ma has not hidden his global ambitions and has cited as his models global companies such as Wal-Mart, IBM and Microsoft.In January at the World Economic Forum in Davos he said his target was two billion Alibaba users worldwide, compared to 334 million “active buyers” in December, and a global version of Taobao, the sales site that cemented his dominance in China.

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