A KFC restaurant in Hangzhou, China is testing a new facial recognition payment system that lets you pay for your meal by simply smiling at a camera.
The new payment method called “Smile to Pay” was launched in partnership with Alipay, the popular mobile and online payment platform created by Chinese conglomerate Alibaba.
The company says the facial recognition technology only takes about two seconds to scan someone’s face using a 3D camera and a “live-ness detection algorithm” to combat fraud.
Customers who decide to use the new facial payment method must also enter their phone number as a second form of authentication.
Even though it looks silly, this new form of payment is actually something Alibaba has been working on for many years. Company president Jack Ma demonstrated some of the underlying technology two years ago at IFA in Germany. The company that built the underlying technology, Megvii, raised $100 million from investors in December.
This isn’t the first time KFC has shown interest in facial-recognition technology, either. Last year, KFC’s Chinese division partnered with Baidu to create new tech-infused “smart restaurants” that used similar technology to scan a customer’s face and make food order suggestions based on their mood, age, and gender.
It’s worth noting that KFC has never been a brand to shy away from an expensive marketing stunt. In the past, the company has launched weird campaigns like a a meal box that chargedyour phone while you were eating and Bluetooth keyboard trays. It remains to be seen whether facial-recognition payments are something customers actually consider to be useful — but with rumors that the next iPhone will have similar technology, it’s easy to imagine a world where everyone is paying for things using their faces, rather than swiping their credit cards.
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