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ING teams with AiFi to pilot Dutch cashierless convenience store

AiFi has partnered two global powerhouses in banking and groceries to pilot an Amazon Go-like convenience store in the Netherlands.

The store is located in Zaandam, Netherlands and is part of Albert Heijn, a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize, the global grocery conglomerate that also owns U.S. chains Giant Food, Stop & Shop, Food Lion and Peapod.

AiFi was co-founded by Ying Zheng, who was named as one of the top 100 Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal earlier this year. Zheng, AiFi’s CEO created the company with co-founder and CEO Steve Gu to eliminate the frustration of waiting in line at the grocery store. Zheng’s background includes stints at Google as a software engineer and at Apple as a senior research scientist, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The convenience store is only about 150 square feet, which is the size of a mobile trailer and likened to a portable vending machine which AiFI calls a “NanoStore.” It is situated in front of the Ahold Delhaize headquarters and will be tested by Ahold employees over the next two months, according to Winsight Grocery Business.

“When the customer shows his payment card at the entrance, the door opens and the registration of purchases of products that the customer takes from the shelves starts. When the customer is ready, he stands at the exit, where he sees the total amount on a display. The payment is then automatically processed up to an amount of 25 euros,” said Roel Popping, director of payments at ING, in the press release. “The customer does not have to register in advance or download an app, which makes the payment system innovative and very accessible.”

Santa Clara, Calif.-based AiFi has raised $15 million in two funding rounds since 2016 according to Crunchbase, a website that tracks investments in private fintech startups.

Ahold expects the portable store branded as Albert Heijn To Go could be relocated to another part of the Netherlands later this year.

The move by Ahold follows the growing global trend of eliminating cashiers and customer queues following the introduction of Amazon Go stores in the U.S., Le Casino 4 by Casino Groupe in France and Sainsbury in the U.K.

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