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Mastercard testing cashierless checkout at convenience stores, drive-throughs

Mastercard is entering the cashierless checkout fray with a spate of pilots it’s launching at convenience stores and drive-through QSRs including Circle K, Dunkin’ and White Castle.

Working with Accel Robotics, Mastercard has developed technology enabling consumers to check out without clerk assistance at any type of retail store from a restaurant to a pharmacy, Mastercard said in a Friday press release.

Mastercard’s new Shop Anywhere platform will launch in October at select Circle K locations in the U.S. and Canada, where consumers can pay for gas and make in-store purchases via an app, eliminating the need to wait in line, the release said.

Dunkin’ will test Mastercard’s cashierless checkout solution at an undisclosed store where customers can walk in and pick up beverages and food without any face-to-face interaction. Delaware North, which operates sports venues and casinos, will enable Shop Anywhere for on-site food and beverage sales, the release said.

At certain White Castle stores, Mastercard in October is launching a frictionless order-and-pay service for motorists called AI-Powered Drive Through. SoundHound Inc. and Rekor Systems are providing technology for the drive-through service, which leverages vehicle recognition, voice ordering and artificial intelligence, Mastercard said in the release.

Mastercard’s cashierless solution centers on grab-and-go shopping, expanding merchants’ ability to serve customers quickly, including outside of normal opening hours, the release said.

The move comes as Amazon's plans to expand cashierless checkout at its Whole Foods grocery stores, while adding a version of the technology to shopping carts and possibly bringing it to larger venues like shopping malls.

NCR also recently said that it’s testing cashierless checkout at a couple of Circle K stores, but that it doesn’t foresee implementing the concept at large-format supermarkets where it provides a combination of assisted and self-service checkout.

Mastercard has dabbled in cashierless checkout before. In 2017 the card brand collaborated with AVA retail on frictionless checkout for WeWork’s Honesty Market, and it’s not the only card network exploring the concept.

Earlier this summer Visa said it was working with Russia’s Sberbank on a pilot of cashierless checkout with local retailer Azbuka Vkusa. Shoppers scan a QR code before selecting items and leaving; items are charged to their card account and a receipt is sent via email.