I was buying some fruit the other day, and as I got my Alipay barcode ready, the cashier—a young boy no older than 12—turned to me and asked, “Can I scan your face?”
I stared at him in confusion.
“You don’t need your barcode,” he continued. “Just look in the camera right here.”
I was both intrigued and mortified. This felt like an episode of Black Mirror. I put my face up to the black lens.
“Error: This face is not linked to a valid Chinese ID,” the screen read.
“Huh,” the young cashier replied. “I guess it doesn’t work on your face.”
I scanned my barcode instead.