Payment Methods

Facial Recognition Becomes KFC Payment Method

In China, pearly whites may get you supper, at least at one KFC location in one Chinese city.

Reuters recently reported customers at one of the firm’s outlets in Hangzhou will be able to pay for their meals with “Smile to Pay” biometric facial recognition technology. The payment method’s adoption is part of a movement by chain owner Yum China Holdings to bring in business from a younger consumer subset. Yum China spun off from United States-based parent company Yum! Brands last year.

Yum China is grappling with changing desires on the part of consumers and has nearly 7,700 outlets across the country. But, as Reuters noted, the firm has been seeing some growth in same-store sales buoyed by KFC. The new biometric payment system system is one in which customers scan their faces at an ordering kiosk and then enter an associated personal phone number. Offering up a phone number gives KFC a secondary guard against those who might seek to cheat the facial recognition capabilities of the platform.

KPRO is the outlet debuting the Smile to Pay technology, and the platform itself is driven by China-based FinTech Ant Financial. Ant Financial which has said the rollout represents the first commercial use of the technology.

“Combined with a 3-D 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 Financial’s director of biometric identification technology, in a statement.

Ant Financial noted the Smile to Pay technology has a multi-step authentication process: A few seconds of facial scanning via 3-D camera, Ant said in a release, as well as a “live-ness detection algorithm” to guarantee identity. The algorithm detects shadows and other features that can only come from humans, the company said.


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