KFC in China Now Lets Customers Pay By Smiling

An innovative use of facial recognition technology is now allowing KFC customers in China to pay for their meals with just a flash of their smiles.

This interesting and unique mode of payment is made possible through the joint efforts of Alibaba’s Ant Financial and a KFC store in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. The site is also the location of Ant Financial’s global headquarters.

The payment process, which is still in its trial phase, looks a breeze to use as the demo video below shows: 

As long as the facial recognition is enabled through the Alipay app, the customer will not be required to use a smartphone each time a purchase is made. For it to work, the system uses a 3D camera to scan the customer’s face. As an added security feature, a phone number verification is optional.

Alibaba first showed off its facial recognition technology at IFA in Germany two years ago with CEO Jack Ma demonstrating some of its early capabilities. From its basic features then that allows customers to take a selfie to pay, the newer version seems to have vastly improved somewhat since then.

According to Techcrunch, Alibaba has adopted the technology called Face++ from Chinese startup Megvii.

The popular chicken fast food chain gets to try the new tech first since Alibaba is an investor to Yum China, which operates KFC in China. McDonald’s and Taco Bell may soon follow as they are also operated by the same Chinese firm.

If proven effective, Alibaba’s “smile to pay” may help boost the Alipay’s popularity and close the gap against Tencent’s hugely popular WeChat Pay which utilizes the WeChat messenger app.

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