Face recognition and QR codes are being used to contain the ongoing coronavirus crisis in China.

As a technological response to the global coronavirus pandemic which started as an outbreak in the city of Wuhan, China’s public subway systems Zhengzhou, Xi’an and Harbin will now include QR code and face scanning payment systems for a contactless experience.

The Smart Commute System, which can be installed on top of existing ticket gates, now offers urban rail transit passengers a contactless alternative to physical payment and access at the subway.

To use this service, commuters can log into respective metro apps and complete preregistration of QR code or their faces at the ticket gates to enter the subway. Fares will be automatically deducted via a pre-set payment method.

By eliminating the use of cash and the handling of physical tickets the new hands-free payment system reduces the possibilities of virus transmission. It also aims to speed up passenger throughput, prevent crowds from gathering, and offer passengers a faster and smoother experience.

The system was developed by AI specialist firm SenseTime in partnership with financial institutions including China Construction Bank, Zhiyuanhui, and CCB Fintech. The SenseMeteor Smart Commute System is fully compatible with the Automatic Fare Collection System (AFC), a payment system used in Chinese urban rail and high-speed railways.

The Smart Commute System has been deployed at all stations along Lines 1 and 14 of the Zhengzhou Metro as well as the entire Lines 1 to 4 of the Xi’an Metro. By June this year, the new payment system will also be available at all 27 stations of the Harbin Metro.

In terms of technology, even before the announcement of the Smart Commute System, computer company Apple had partnered with China T-Union for contactless transit via its Iphones and Apple Watch.