Chinese consumers have embraced facial identification to buy everything

Chinese consumers have embraced facial identification and mobile payments to buy everything from fast food to sex toys, drawn towards the efficiency and the novelty of semiautomated stores… Ecommerce giant is the latest to branch into automation, announcing a tie-up last week with Hong Kong-listed developer China Overseas Land & Investment to build hundreds of self-serve convenience stores and 1,500 medicine dispensers across China… Rising labour costs and high turnover among blue-collar jobs has price sensitive online retailers looking to apply logistics and online payment systems to automate shopping… Some automated outlets are less like stores and more like walk-in vending machines. Chief among them is BingoBox, which this year installed 5,000 of its compact units selling snacks and fresh fruit across major Chinese cities. Meanwhile, Alibaba has spearheaded the push into “new retail”, buying up physical stores to give shopping experience a high-tech twist. It spent a total of $5.5 billion in 2017 to buy private brick-and-mortar retailer Intime and a one third stake in Sun Art Retail, one of China’s biggest supermarket chains… Many of China’s biggest mobile apps allow users to submit a selfie to log in, including Ant Financial, Alibaba’s online payments affiliate, and car-hailing service Didi Chuxing, which uses facial recognition to verify drivers’ identities. 
Emily Feng