If there’s one thing most of us probably wouldn’t think we’d want when it comes to features

If there’s one thing most of us probably never thought we’d want in e-wallet features, it’s an artificial intelligence (AI) “mini-app” to detect baldness . And yet, here we are at a time when Alipay, China’s largest payment app, is just making its debut.

Like most e-wallet/payment apps, Alipay allows users to link their bank accounts to the app to simplify online and point-of-purchase payments. But Alipay goes beyond just payments.

Designed to be a “cool app” for locals, Alipay’s many features include ride sharing, mobile services, bill pay, coupon and travel services, shopping and social media features.

The app’s newest feature is a significant departure from its other utility-based features: an AI-powered hair loss detector.

According to a report from the South China Morning Post, users can upload photos of their scalp which will be processed by an image recognition system trained on thousands of medically relevant images. The app then provides users with suggestions up to and including recommending medical care where appropriate.

Alipay – created by Alibaba’s fintech subsidiary Antgroup – unveiled its AI-powered “medical assistant” feature in April 2024. A new hair loss detector has been added as part of this suite.

The big idea behind the combination of a digital wallet app, lifestyle services app, and medical tool aims for convenience and simplicity. However, although these applications are popular in the East, they have not found a similar reception in Europe and North America.

Elon Musk is one of the supporters of the concept of multimedia “super application”. He has repeatedly stated that he wants to become a full-featured app comparable to offerings in the Chinese market.

But privacy watchdogs around the world have warned that these apps combine user information in a way that subjects users’ privacy and security to the whims of the app owner and any entity with access to them. data.

In the case of Alipay, for example, the Chinese government has made it clear that user data must be made available to the government. While there is no official word on exactly how the data will be used, at first glance it would be technologically trivial to create and manage a database of user activity – essentially creating a tool to track citizen activity in real time.

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