In its lending business, meanwhile, Ping An says it uses its technology to analyze the faces of loan applicants in real time, searching for “micro-expressions” that reveal their emotional and psychological state. Such expressions typically occur within fractions of seconds and are hard for people to control, and loan officers make more accurate judgments on the applicants’ credibility based on this information, according to an article posted by Ping An on its official WeChat social-media account in China last year.
For large loans, applicants often have to answer questions in an online video meeting that typically lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Ping An records and analyzes how the applicant answers questions, and looks for signs of eye-shifting or other suspicious behavior, which would be flagged by its system.
Ping An in January said it has made more than 500 billion yuan worth of loans with the help of its micro-expression technology. It also said the technology has helped shorten its average loan-approval times to two hours from five days.
Tracking movement of large numbers of people and compiling databases on patterns of behaviour, social media activity and even utilities bills is about as a Big Brother as is currently imaginable. The rolling out of the social credit scheme to the insurance sector is just another part of that long-term project to compile a unique score for each individual which will be more exact than a credit score and will have broad spectrum uses beyond credit, not least in quelling political activism.
It’s also worth highlighting the study of physiognomy, or facial features, remains a popular activity in China. It’s not uncommon to be told you have a lucky nose (mine is too long and pointy) or that long earlobes represent luck. That is probably also a factor in the docile way in which this migration has been greeted by Chinese consumers.
Either way it is just one more iteration of the long-term program to diffuse internal dissent before it ever begins.Back to top