Chinese banks have started using micro-expression technology in an effort to spot the early signs of fraud in customers’ facial movements.

Chinese banks start scanning borrowers’ facial movements

The banks are worried that some potential customers may be lying about the uses of loans, so they have developed systems that use smartphone cameras to detect minute facial expressions and indicate when a user is being economical with the truth.

Chinese banks are among the first in the world to use the technology commercially. Ping An, the financial services conglomerate, has developed the technology and is using it in its lending businesses. Western groups have so far shied away from the technology because of concerns about its reliability and the ethics of using it.

Ping An’s technology can identify 54 brief, involuntary micro-expressions, which the face often creates before the brain has a chance to control facial movements. They include eyeballs moving back and forth and rapid blinking, and often take place in only 1/15 to 1/25 of a second.

Lee Yuansiong, one of Ping An’s deputy chief executives, said: “We use micro expression recognition technology to review loan applications. It captures subtle changes in customers’ facial expressions which help to identify and warn against fraud risks.”

He added: “We’ve reduced credit losses by 60 per cent using this technology. It is more accurate than other approaches to fraud detection.”

The company does not use micro-expressions alone to decide whether or not to lend money. However, if the technology spots something amiss, the client will be flagged for extra investigation. Ping An is not the only company experimenting with the technology.

Kee Sun-Tuan, chief information officer in China at Standard Chartered, said: “Micro-expression technology acts like a lie-detector, using the camera in a phone to check people’s responses to questions and scan their facial movements.”

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