Brands accept non-traditional currency in clever campaigns

More than half of global youth are interested in owning digital currency like Bitcoin, as revealed in our latest report, Self Made, but other alternative payments are catching their attention as well. Brands around the world are implementing creative campaigns and technologies to accept smiles, scrapes, and dialects instead of money.


Customers at K PRO, KFC’s new concept restaurant in Hangzhou, China that sells healthier fare like salads, juices, and paninis, don’t need cash or digital currencies to order a meal. Instead, the eatery has partnered with Alipay, the payment service affiliated with Alibaba, to offer Smile to Pay technology. Patrons step up and let the machine scan their face with a 3D camera and a “live-ness detection algorithm” that confirms their identity. Notably, the technology can detect changes in a person, such as if they’re wearing minimal makeup or change their hair.


Increasingly, brands have been offering free products and services in exchange for people exercising in order to promote an active lifestyle, but Australian sports shop Ozmosis is taking this tactic to the next level. As the retailer promotes adventure sports, it’s introduced a system where shoppers can show their injury scars, scrapes, or bruises to a staff member or upload a photo with the hashtag #PayWithPain to receive a discount. Ozmosis asserts that such wounds are a badge of honor and symbolize how people challenge themselves. The initiative aligns with Gen Zs’ view of failure, as they don’t regard setbacks as a sign of defeat but rather a way to learn and grow.


To celebrate the many different dialects of Sweden and reward those who know the regional nuances, Coca-Cola set up a vending machine in Stockholm that accepted specific dialects as payment. The Dialekt-o-maten used voice recognition technology to determine if users could pronounce phrases in different dialects, taking voice, tempo, and tone mode into consideration to establish how accurate the user is to the original. If correct, people were given a beverage with the destination on the label. The campaign also sought to promote tourism throughout the country by exposing passersby to 90 different destinations and their specific dialects.