In today’s world, nearly anything is possible. In the case of paying for items, we have evolved from using cash to do so, to using a piece of plastic, and even using just your phone! You literally can go out with just your phone and pay using an Apple Pay app for example, no need for any cash or card. But now, it has gone up a notch, where we can now use our body parts to pay! In 2017, a new way of paying was implemented: Paying with your face.
In the KFC outlets in China, this is exactly what is happening. Teaming up with Alibaba, they have implemented a “smile-to-pay” method of paying for your food in KFC outlets in Eastern Hangzhou. KFC was the first adopter of such a method since Alibaba is an investor in Yum China, which operates the brand and other fast food franchises including Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in China. Before this, Alibaba used the technology Face++ by Chinese startup Megvii, which has developed into this method today.
Diners at the restaurant, place their order at a terminal, which then scans their face. If it matches the image on the photo ID stored in the system of Alipay, the method commonly used to pay for items in China, the customer only has to enter their phone number and the payment goes through. Their food is still served by a regular human.
The KFC restaurant is the first physical store in the world to use facial recognition software to take payments, and in the future, more will be adopting such a function to pay. Alibaba has been pushing its vision of the future of commerce, where it believes to integrates elements from online and offline retail. It launched a cash-less store earlier this summer, and it operates 10 neighborhood stores in Shanghai which use a mobile app to optimize the customer experience. This method of paying also helps to boost the popularity of Alipay, which they aim to overtake their rival app WeChat Pay which is linked to WeChat, an immensely popular messenger app in China.
In my opinion, this further increases the convenience of paying as facial recognition is definitely unique and easy and hassle-free. The only problem is if people have facial changes such as undergoing surgery or pimple breakouts, will the database still be able to recognise their face? In such cases people may take longer to order their food as compared to just ordering at the counter, which defeats the whole purpose of this paying method. It may even turn “fast food” into “slow food” with such complications! What do you think of such a method of paying? Will it be here to stay and adopted by more companies? Let me know in the comments below.