Alibaba's CEO Jack Ma has demonstrated a smartphone payment system which uses your face to authenticate purchases. Ma, the founder of ecommerce giant Alibaba and China's second wealthiest man, demonstrated the unique payment system on stage during his keynote at the CeBit trade show in Germany.

Ma used the system to buy a gift for the Mayor of Hannover (where the conference is taking place), purchasing a souvenir stamp which dates back to the city's trade fairs in 1948. Ma simply pressed the Buy button to trigger a system which looked like he was taking a selfie.

Within seconds the purchase was completed and Ma said that the stamp would be delivered to the mayor within six days. Ma said nothing else about the system and didn't answer any follow-up questions about the new technology.

The platform is currently being tested by Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba affiliate that runs the hugely successful Alipay payment platform, which is similar to PayPal.

Big headache

According to the website Recode, Ma finished his presentation by saying: "I want to take this opportunity to demonstrate a small innovative product that we designed."

He added that the new technology would remove a lot of the problems people have with online payment systems today: "[Using] online payments to buy things is always a big headache. You forget your password, you worry about security. Today we'll show you a new technology, how in the future people will buy things online."

It is unclear just how the technology works, but it is likely that this is a more secure system than the face unlocking security currently in use on smartphones - systems which have been shown to be be easily tricked with photographs.

The system could rely on iris recognition technology similar to the that demonstrated by Fujitsu at Mobile World Congress 2015, which is a fast and highly secure method of identification.