Paying with a Smile

Alibaba Embraces Facial Recognition for Payments

To pay at a KFC store in Hangzhou, China, all you have to do is smile. KFC has introduced a facial recognition system at one of its branches in the city, which lets diners pay by smiling. The unique "Smile to Pay" system, developed by Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial, debuted at KFC's new health-focussed concept restaurant, called KPRO.

According to Ant Financial, this is the first physical store in the world to apply facial recognition software to process payments. The company says it's confident that this new initiative is completely secure and safe to use.

Diners can pay for food without cash, a credit card or a smartphone. Instead, they scan their face at a self-service kiosk and then enter their mobile phone number as an added level of security.

This service is based on Alipay, a digital payments platform from Ant Financial. Alipay has more than 500 million users worldwide and lets people sign into its app by using facial recognition software.

In China, this type of technology has become an increasingly legitimate way for people to identify themselves at business and government agencies. It's even being used at Beijing's historic Temple of Heaven to stop visitors from stealing rolls of toilet paper. Transport systems are also implementing facial recognition software. For example, China Southern Airlines began deploying it earlier in 2017 to do away with boarding passes for the first time.

Chinese consumers already lead the world in mobile payments, and Alipay, WeChat and Apple Pay are the three platforms with the most traction.

Alibaba has been pushing its vision of the future of commerce, which it believes integrates elements of both online and offline retail. For example, it launched a cashless store in summer 2017 and it operates 10 neighbourhood stores in Shanghai that use a mobile app to optimise the customer experience.

Smile to Pay is a bit of a gimmick, but it should help boost the popularity of Alipay. The company is eager to stay ahead of the curve with innovative technology, especially as Tencent's WeChat Pay — a payment system connected to China's hugely popular WeChat messenger app — is close on its heels.

Payment methods that apply biometrics aren't unique, of course: popular mobile payment services integrate fingerprint sensors, and facial scanning could soon become a secondary form of authentication. Alibaba's solution shows that interest in this space is on the rise, and with Apple expected to introduce facial recognition features at the launch event for its new iPhone this week, this is certainly poised to be a hot technology area.

This entry was posted on September 11th, 2017 and is filed under Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Posted By Raghu Gopal On September 11th, 2017

(There are no comments yet)
Leave a Comment

Hot News

Team Tweets

CCS Insight
Qualcomm takes aim at the server silicon market with Centriq 2400
Follow CCS Insight
Shaun Collins
Good day today. At the @TheO2 watching @rogerfederer and @JackGrealish1 on the bench for @AVFCOfficial at @QPRFC.
Follow Shaun
Ben Wood
Think we’ll be seeing a lot more capabilities added to HomePod beyond high end audio when it finally shows up. Very…
Follow Ben
Martin Garner
@Google TensorFlow Lite launched in beta: Late, but strong competitor to Azure IoT Edge an…
Follow Martin
Geoff Blaber
RT @mikeddano: . @sprint COO of Technology @guengott68 is leaving the company just a week after @Son_Softbank promised to triple Sprint's c…
Follow Geoff
Marina Koytcheva
@EisenTV @CCSInsight Ah! I thought I said "brief success" :)
Follow Marina
Nicholas McQuire
RT @lbcbreaking: AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young has died aged 64, the band has announced.
Follow Nicholas
Paolo Pescatore
@SpringhamJustin Shame they don’t play like that every week!
Follow Paolo
Kester Mann
RT @CCSInsight: A leading Western operator adopts a radical new business model by 2021 #ccspredicts
Follow Kester
Laura Simeonova
RT @CCSInsight: Optimization for artificial intelligence defines competitiveness in mobile chipsets in 2019 and beyond #ccspredicts https:/…
Follow Laura
Katie Taylor
RT @guardianscience: Scientists make first ever attempt at gene editing inside the body
Follow Katie
Tony Worthington
Thoroughly enjoyed speaking at #ccspredicts event today. They get better every year. Keep it going Team CCS!
Follow Tony

Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post
Mobile Scale, from Device to Data Centre Taking Advantage of a Colossal Market The technology indu... Read more
Blog Post
Multi-Gigabit Wi-Fi Comes of Age Faster Wi-Fi in an Age of Gigabit LTE Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi... Read more
Blog Post
Uber Partners with NASA Ride-Hailing Company Envisions Flying Cars Uber moved a ste... Read more
More blog

Latest Company News

Blog Post
CCS Insight Predicts 1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China 5G to take off faster than any previous mobile technology ... Read more
More news