pay with a smile

By: Nick Gambino

Gone are the days when you need your wallet or even your smartphone to make a payment at your favorite establishment. All you need to bring with you are your pearly whites and your face. Well, at least that’s how it’s going down at a KFC in China.

Launched by Alipay (one of the world’s largest mobile payment platforms), the new Smile to Pay system uses facial recognition technology to complete the transaction. To pay, you step to the 3D camera and simply smile.

Using some sophisticated combination of software and hardware, Smile to Pay is able to detect the identity of the person standing in front of it despite factors like heavy makeup, different hair color, etc. The video above shows a woman wearing a wig, putting on makeup and being surrounding by other people. In each instance, the camera seems to have no problem identifying her. Apparently, the algorithm can even detect when someone is trying to use a photo or video to try and trick it.

The process only takes a second or two. Unfortunately, payment isn’t completed after you smile for your mug shot. Next, you have to enter your phone number for additional security.

It’s this last step that almost seems to diminish the whole process. If the whole point is to make things faster and easier I would argue that entering your phone number is a bit more of a pain than just placing your phone up to a scanner. I mean that essentially means you’re entering a 10-digit code after posing for a photo. I’d opt out.

Now, this is currently only being used in one KFC location in Hangzhou, China. My guess is this process will be streamlined before it’s disseminated to further KFCs or even outside of China.

What do you think of a Smile to Pay system instead of using your smartphone or carrying a wallet? We want to know your thoughts. Comment down below!


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.