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Here’s how McDonald’s and KFC are adapting in China

A KFC restaurant in a shopping mall.  KFC, McDonalds,A KFC restaurant in a shopping mall.  KFC, McDonalds,
A KFC restaurant in a shopping mall in China.Photograph by Zhang Peng LightRocket — Getty Images

McDonald’s and Yum Brands’ KFC have each recently unveiled plans to tinker with mobile payments in China, a move to lure the nation’s hundreds of millions smartphone users that increasingly use those devices for their day-to-day needs.

Mobile payment adoption has already accelerated here in the U.S., with restaurant chains such as Starbucks (SBUX) aggressively adding the tech upgrade to their retail locations. Restaurant chains are now figuring out they need to employ that technology in China, too.

McDonald’s (MCD) is starting mobile payments and ordering in China under a pilot program in the current quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yum (YUM) recently said its KFC business teamed up with Alibaba (BABA) to launch a mobile-payment service for 700 of its 4,500-plus stores in the country.

Experts say that mobile payments are actually taking off faster in China than in the U.S., the Journal reported, because the Chinese don’t use credit cards as widely as American consumers. And while many home-grown retailers already use mobile payments, Wal-Mart (WMT) and KFC are actually early adopters among their peers.