Big Brother knows you picked up a dosirak, and charges you
Convenience stores are deploying high-tech solutions to make their unmanned stores safer and more efficient.
At some locations, you can walk out without paying — cameras, computers and sensors figure out how much you owe and charge you for it.
Starting from Tuesday, customers can enter 10 CU branches in Busan by scanning the B PASS application with reader device located near the door. The B PASS is a blockchain-based app that uses decentralized identification (DID) technology to store digital IDs of individuals. It is developed by the city of Busan.
The 10 branches are hybrid stores, meaning they have cashiers through the afternoon but are operated as unmanned stores in the night.
"We were able to swiftly apply the system through an entry kiosk machine we recently developed," said a spokesperson for BGF Retail, which operates the CU convenience store chain. "The blockchain DID technology helped us to guarantee higher security."
Apart from the B PASS app, customers can enter other unmanned CU stores by swiping their credit card or using digital identification systems on the company's Pocket CU app. Shinhan Play and Kakao Wallet apps also work.
Over 900 unmanned and hybrid branches are operated by the big three convenience stores chains, GS25, CU and 7-Eleven. Many unmanned stores are being added as a solution to the rising minimum wage, and technology to prevent theft or accidents has been important to safely run the branches.
GS25 has commissioned SK Shieldus, 62.6 percent owned by SK Telecom, to install smart surveillance cameras in 30 of its unmanned stores in November. Some six to eight cameras are installed per branch to monitor customers and alert SK Shieldus when something unusual happens — theft, when a customer stays in the store too long or when someone touches the cash register.
If there is an emergency, the security company dispatches a security guard or calls the police.
Only 30 branches have the smart cameras now, but GS25 said it plans to add the security system to all of its unmanned branches in the future.
Emart 24 has been operating a cashier-less store at Coex in southern Seoul since September. It is working with Shinsegae I&C, owned 35.65 percent by Emart, to utilize various technologies to the branch.
There are two ways to enter the store. Customers can either swipe their credit card at a machine outside or scan their SSG Pay or Emart24 apps, which other payment systems are registered on. Visitors can simply leave with items they want to purchase. Smart cameras will identify what items are being taken out and automatically settle payments from the scanned credit card or registered app.
Starting November, the store was upgraded to sell cigarettes to visitors. Cigarettes are put in the enclosed Spharos Smart Shelf, developed by Shinsegae I&C. It only opens when customers verify they are an adult by scanning their identity authentication app Pass.
BY LEE BYUNG-JUN, LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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