Alibaba opens unmanned wine store

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has unveiled plans for a fully-automated wine store where people are able to make purchases through facial recognition.

Customers to the store can be attended to by a machine, which is able to help them identify the product, obtain further information about it and facilitate the purchase through facial recognition. All bottles are embedded with a tracking tag, with nearby screens displaying further information when the bottle is picked up. Payments are automatically conducted through Alibaba’s Alipay payment platform.

Alibaba unveiled the solution at Vinexpo in Hong Kong, along with other next-gen products including a ‘Future Bar’ which includes facial-scanning for entry, a robot waiter, RFID technology to enhance browsing touchscreen displays for product research and a smart wine cooler.

The new walk-out technology is a product of the company’s technology development programme, launched in October last year. The programme was designed to increase technological capabilities through development of cutting-edge products, with Alibaba committing more than $15 billion to the project.

Meanwhile, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has launched a blockchain-based cross-border remittance service.

The first remittance route for the new service will run between Hong Kong and the Philippines, through a partnership between AlipayHK and GCash. Standard Chartered will act as the settlement bank, with all three acting in parallel over a shared ledger, enabling the verification and execution of the payment to occur simultaneously.

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