China is leading the industry in terms of digital payments. The newest addition to this crown is the facial recognition technology. It literally allows a customer to pay while smiling. It is the Ant Financial affiliate of Alibaba that launched the ‘smile to pay’ service. Huangzhou hosted the launch of the technology, where the global headquarters of the company is. Presently, it is in a trial with KFC.
In order to go through this payment process, customers don’t need a smartphone. But it is important that they are signed up with the Alipay app, and have enabled facial recognition. At the sale point, there is a 3D camera located to scan the face of the customers for verifying their identity. There is also a phone number verification option that adds further security.
Two years ago, Alibaba presented this facial recognition technology at the IFA in Germany. It even had an option for snapping a selfie and pay. Now, it is quite natural that the options have developed since then. Alibaba presently uses Face++, a technology by Chinese startup Megvii.
Alibaba is well known in operating KFC, McDonalds, and Taco Bell, alongside many other fast food franchises, in China. Therefore, it was pretty obvious that KFC would be the first adopter of the facial recognition technology.
Summing Up for facial recognition technology
Alibaba has been working on its visionary aspects based on commerce. It aims at integrating elements from both offline and online retail. Earlier this summer, Alibaba launched a cashless store. In fact, the company now operates a total of 10 stores in the neighborhoods of Shanghai. The best part is that these stores use a mobile app for optimizing customer experience.
The ‘smile to pay’ facial recognition technology seems to be the next evolutionary step for this strategy. It also helps boost the popularity of Alipay. The app is in close rivalry with WeChat Pay of Tencent.