China is streets ahead when it comes to digital payments. The latest leap is facial recognition technology that allows a customer to pay by literally flashing a smile. As the video from Ant below shows, the payment process doesn’t require a smartphone, assuming that the customer has already signed up for the Alipay app and enabled facial recognition. A 3D camera located at the point-of-sale scans the customers face to verify their identity, while there is a phone number verification option for additional security.
This trial is the culmination of a number of deals for Alibaba.
The company first showed off facial recognition technology at IFA in Germany two years ago when President Jack Ma showed off some basic capabilities, including the option to snap a selfie to pay. The options have advanced somewhat since then. Under the hood, Alibaba uses a technology called Face++ from Chinese startup Megvii, which raised over $150 million from investors that include Foxconn.
KFC was an obvious first adopter since Alibaba is an investor in Yum China, which operates the brand and other fast food franchises including McDonalds and Taco Bell in China.