In Faddish China, Even Glorified Vending Machines Raise Billions
Fear of missing out grips Chinese investors in unmanned retail.
About a score of startups have attracted at least $1.7 billion.
Chinese offices aren’t known for cushy perks. So imagine Ben Jiang’s surprise when he showed up one morning to find a bright pink kiosk in the lobby, laden with fruit, yogurt and steamed buns. The brainchild of Mr. Fresh — one of Beijing’s buzziest startups — its free-standing shelves don’t lock away or even tag its wares, just ask that shoppers scan smartphone codes to pay for whatever they grab.

Unsurprisingly, a mini free-for-all ensued.

“I know people in the office have taken away stuff worth 5 yuan but just pay 1 yuan,” said Jiang, who works in the Beijing technology hub of Zhongguancun. “They have these open shelves that have no way of monitoring what people are doing. It’s so unreliable to just base a business model on people’s good behavior.”
Some of China’s most powerful corporations and investment houses disagree. Names from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to Walmart Inc. and Sequoia have poured more than $1.7 billion into startups such as Mr. Fresh and Xingbianli (Gorilla Convenience) that for now offer little more than tricked-out vending machines or kiosks.
Read More

— With assistance by Lulu Yilun Chen, and David Ramli
Bloomberg News
May 21, 2018, 1:30 AM GMT+5:30

FROM THE WEB


More Americans are struggling to pay their credit cards, and what’s holding them back is only getting worse
Business Insider
MAY 22, 2018, 12.01 AM


Digital payments take a hit each time customers shop
The Times of India
May 21, 2018, 08:01 IST


Jack Ma, Chinese tech help PH slay cash as king of payments
ABS-CBN News
May 21, 2018


Setting tone for payments
The Hindu
NEW DELHI, MAY 20, 2018 20:27 IST


Sports Gambling’s Next Hurdle Is Credit Cards After Court Ruling
Bloomberg
May 18, 2018, 8:51 PM GMT+5:30


Capital One is using Foursquare to push offers to customers
TEARSHEET
MAY 17, 2018

FROM THE TUBE


Jack Ma Inspirational Dialogue with Tel Aviv University Students
TAUVOD
Published on May 6, 2018


PayPal CEO & Jim Cramer Talk China, Diversity, Alexa and More!
TheStreet: Investing Strategies
Published on May 7, 2018


Wells Fargo Reimagines Mobile Experience with ‘Pay with Wells Fargo’
Wells Fargo
Published on May 10, 2018


Counting the cost of going cashless
Financial Times
Published on May 10, 2018


Technology insights from Day 2
NRF Expo 2018 | Retail Assist Vlog

Retail Assist
Published on Jan 17, 2018


Technology insights from NRF Expo 2018 |
Retail Assist Vlog

Retail Assist
Published on Jan 16, 2018

Editors’s Picks