KFC China – an unlikely leader when it comes to embracing new technology in recent times – has introduced a way for patrons at its KPRO outlet in Hangzhou to pay for their meals: smiling. Ant financial, operator of the Alipay payment platform used by Alibaba, says it’s the world’s first commercial application of a facial-recognition payment system.
Unlike other KFCs, the KPRO store has a focus on healthy eating and tech, offering the likes of salads, paninis, gourmet coffees, freshly squeezed juice, and even craft beer. It also features the ‘Smile to Pay' system, which allows customers to pay for their orders by smiling into the camera at one of the kiosks.
It takes just two seconds for a machine to identify a person, analyzing more than 600 facial features to match them with the photo ID stored on the Alipay system. It includes a “live-ness detection algorithm” to prevent people from spoofing the system using photos, and it can even identify users when they’re wearing wigs or heavy makeup.
“Combined with a 3D camera and liveness detection algorithm, Smile to Pay can effectively block spoofing attempts using other people’s photos or video recordings and ensure account safety,” said Jidong Chen, Ant’s director of biometric identification technology.
While no cash, cards, or smartphones are required, customers are asked to type in their phone numbers as an extra layer of security once the system identifies them.
Earlier this year, KFC teamed up with ‘Apple of China’ Baidu to trial kiosks that guess customers’ orders just by analyzing their facial features. And in July, a limited edition KFC version of Huawei’s Enjoy 7 Plus handset was released in China, celebrating the outlet’s 30 years in the country.