Mastercard. So worldly, so welcome, and now so contact-free. The global payments company today announced its Shop Anywhere and AI Powered Drive Through tools to help retailers create low-touch shopping experiences for consumers.
Mastercard’s ShopAnywhere program is using the AI and computer vision of Accel Robotics to create cashierless checkout for stores. According to the press release, Shop Anywhere can be deployed across a variety of physical formats. Mastercard has already lined up several Shop Anywhere customers including Circle K convenience stores in U.S. and Canada; Delaware North, a global hospitality company that operates at entertainment venues, national parks, resorts and more; and at a Dunkin’ location.
Accel Robotics is based in San Diego and raised $30 million in funding at the end of last year. The company has been relatively quiet compared with its cashierless competitors like Zippin, Grabango and Trigo. But what it lacks in showiness it has made up for with a large partner like Mastercard, which can leverage its massive presence to increase adoption of the Accel’s cashierless tech.
Mastercard’s other initiative, AI Powered Drive Through, is being implemented through partnerships with SoundHound Inc. and Rekor Systems. The program promises to help QSRs “transform their drive through or drive in interactions through vehicle recognition, voice ordering, and artificial intelligence.”
Part of that vehicle recognition technology used by Rekor involves the system knowing your license plate as well as make and model of car. Knowing who you are as you pull into the drive-thru lane means that an order can be rushed out to your car faster or a digital menu could offer up a personalized set of options based on your purchase history. That is, if you don’t mind the privacy implications of a restaurant chain knowing all about the car you drive.
Mastercard’s Drive Through builds on a partnership it had with Sonic Drive-In last year, and will being doing on-location pilots at White Castle locations in October of this year. While it didn’t mention Mastercard, KFC has hinted that it could adopt this type of technology as well.
Of course, Mastercard is announcing both of these initiatives during a global pandemic. As a result, many retailers are looking for ways to reduce human-to-human contact, and the number of touchpoints in stores, including things like touchscreens and even payment terminals where consumers swipe their credit cards. In other words, we’re going to see a lot more announcements similar to this in the coming months as we establish a new normal in a coronavirus world.