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And we thought Apple Pay was easy.

September 01, 2017

Back in January, Food and Wine reported that KFC China would be introducing a facial recognition system that would predict your order (it’s not as creepy as it sounds). Now it looks like the brand is enhancing that technology with additional features. According to Reuters, the system lets customers pay by face, just by approaching one of the store's newly unveiled monitors.

The new device is located at a KFC outpost in the city of Hangzhou. The facial recognition system is called Smile to Pay, and it’s being featured at a Yum Brands (the company behind KFC) so-called concept store called KPRO that is focused on healthier menu items. The menu features roasted chicken, craft beer, fresh juice, salads, and paninis. Yum China’s president explains that the store is aimed at “young, tech savvy consumers who are keen to embrace new tastes and innovations”.

The process behind Smile to Pay is actually very simple: Customers pay for their food by approaching the face-scanning kiosk and entering their phone number. If your face matches a photo in the system, the cost of the meal is debited from the banking account on file. It’s also supposed to block any cheating customers who try to scan a photograph or a video recording.

The system sounds convenient—no more digging around your purse or backpack looking for your wallet or credit card, spilling coins and cash all over the counter in the process—but it’s also one of those futuristic innovations many people recognize from science fiction might only be accepted after some trepidation.

The company that created Smile to Pay claims that KFC China is the first-ever business to use face-scanning technology like this. But the move makes sense: There’s no better place to test out measures that make life more convenient than at the places where people eat. After all, we're usually there because we're hungry already and just want to get to our food as quickly and easily as possible.