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Home Technology Alipay deploys AI to test for hair loss as payment app pushes further into users’ lives

Alipay deploys AI to test for hair loss as payment app pushes further into users’ lives

by Tunae

The largest mobile wallet in China, operated by Ant Group, has a new mini app that uses AI to assess images of a head and estimate whether a user is balding

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Alipay, the ubiquitous Chinese mobile payment service operated by Ant Group, has added a hair loss testing feature that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in its latest effort to push further into consumers’ everyday lives.

The feature is meant to help people self-test for balding by uploading four pictures covering the front, top and sides of a head. It also offers suggestions for whether to seek medical advice.

The platform is powered by Ant’s own AntBrayer multimodal model, which includes both language and image recognition. It was trained on the data of thousands of real-life cases, according to Ant.

Alipay is one of China’s top two mobile payment solutions, which together with Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay account for more than 90 per cent of the market. While WeChat Pay was built on the back of the popularity of China’s biggest super app, WeChat, Alipay has been looking for ways of making its app more sticky by adding new functionality covering a variety of areas such as finance, lifestyle, healthcare and some social functions.
Ant is the fintech affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post.
The baldness checker quickly caught the attention of netizens in China, where nearly one in six, or more than 250 million people, have dealt with issues related to hair loss, according to a survey by China’s National Health Commission in 2020. A growing number of young Chinese have started to take notice of hair-related issues amid increasing levels of stress, pollution and unhealthy lifestyles.

Cai Kefa, the tool’s project manager, said the mini app can offer timely warnings about the onset of hair loss in a scientific manner. This can help people stop relying on superstitious remedies such as rubbing ginger on the top of their heads, he added.

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The tool was jointly developed by doctors from a clinic specialising in hair loss at a hospital in Hangzhou, where Ant is based in eastern Zhejiang province. Shuai Juncong, a user who tested the mini app, said it could be helpful for people with hair issues.

“The advice from AI is useful for me,” he said. “I will recommend it to others because it’s easy to use with just four pictures.”

Alipay has been providing AI health services since April, including an “AI medical assistant” that can guide patients through medical procedures such as telling them which department to report to and where they are in the queue to see the doctor. The service has been used in more than 92 hospitals across Zhejiang, according to the provincial health commission.

Alipay also advertised another AI assistant on its homepage in April that provides more than 30 different services, including for travel, healthcare, and government services.

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