Mastercard Pushes Into Cashierless Stores

Circle K, Dunkin’ and White Castle will pilot the AI-powered checkout-free technology.

August 31, 2020

PURCHASE, N.Y.—Mastercard is moving into the cashierless commerce space by partnering with Accel Robotics on a new technology platform that will enable convenience stores, QSRs and other retailers to offer their customers a frictionless grab-and-go experience in the store or drive-thru, the credit card firm announced Friday. Circle K is among the retailers signed up for a pilot program set to launch in October.

Dubbed Shop Anywhere and supported by AI and computer vision from Accel Robotics, the platform will help retailers streamline and personalize the shopping experience for consumers without compromising privacy, Mastercard said. Inside the store, consumers won’t need to wait in line to pay for their purchases, and the technology can be retrofitted to existing spaces or incorporated into new builds, whether in c-stores, airports, grocery stores, shopping malls or other retail outlets.

Circle K plans to launch at-the-pump and in-store frictionless experiences for its consumers, enabling them to grab and go snacks and drinks at select U.S. and Canadian locations. The convenience retailer with working on a project with Standard Cognition to launch a cashierless c-store in Phoenix, with plans to expand to other stores, NACS Daily reported earlier this month.

At a Dunkin’ restaurant testing Mastercard’s Shop Anywhere technology, customers will be able to approach the store and pick up their coffee and donuts and walk away without any face-to-face interaction.

Delaware North, a global hospitality company operating at sports and entertainment venues, national parks, destinations restaurants and resorts, airports and regional casinos, will deploy standalone, frictionless food and drink stores powered by the Mastercard solution.

At the drive-thru, c-stores and QSRs can use the platform to personalize menu offers based on customers’ past purchases or store promos. The technology also reduces friction within the ordering process by removing the need to wait for an employee to take an order, enabling staff to focus on order throughput, said Mastercard, which is partnering with SoundHound Inc. and Rekor Systems on the drive-thru system, which also includes vehicle recognition and voice ordering capabilities.

Select White Castle locations will pilot the AI-powered drive-thru technology, which will roll out to other QSRs later this year.

“As retailers and consumers navigate through one of the most disruptive periods in modern history, it’s clear that traditional business operations will need to evolve quickly,” said Stephane Wyper, senior vice president, Retail Innovation, Mastercard. “We’re committed to supporting our retail partners as they look to meet the unforeseen challenges posed by this new normal and provide their customers with a more digitally enabled, touchless, and secure retail experience.” 

The August cover story of NACS Magazine explores “The ‘Vision’ of Future Checkout,” including its applications for c-stores.

Retail spending on AI systems is projected to reach $19.6 billion by 2024, up from $8.4 billion in 2020, according to International Data Corp, as companies use the technology to improve customer experience, the Wall Street Journal reports.