Smile to pay: KFC in China testing facial recognition technology for customers' payments

The technology is currently available in one KFC store in China


Facial recognition is one of the most significant technologies out there these days. While we are still not clear if Apple will integrate it in its upcoming iPhone, recently a new social media platform has been launched, which mainly works on this technology. And now, another company is testing the technology in a rather unusual way. KFC has started testing facial recognition in its booths at a store in China, where people can pay with their face.

First, the customers will have to browse through the KFC's selection on the screen at the booth and tap the choices and then all they have to do is look up to seal the deal.

The facial recognition technology is connected with a popular mobile wallet app called Alipay. Ant Financial, which is a spin-off from e-commerce giant Alibaba and the creator of the Alipay app, has developed the tech for KFC. The firm describes the system as "smile to pay."

The scanning system focuses on customers' faces, so it doesn't matter if they change their makeup or hair.

Also Read: Singapore becomes first country in Southeast Asia to get Google Wifi

However, they also have an option for the people, who do not want to get snapped. They can just pay with their phone instead, using the Alipay or WeChat app, by simply scanning a QR code at the booths.

China already leads in using mobile payments platforms. In 2016, a total of 195 million people in China used digital transaction systems on their phones. Alipay, WeChat, and Apple Pay are the three services, with the most number of transactions.

The face recognition system, that KFC is testing no, was first unveiled in March 2015 by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Since then, the technology has been seen in uses here and there in small-scale testing.

However, this "smile to pay" payment system from Alipay is only available in one KFC store in China, for now. The store is the experimental healthy eating outlet KPro, in Hangzhou, the place which is also where Alibaba is based.

This article was first published on September 2, 2017