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Convenience store chain CU operates vending machine for alcoholic drinks

By Park Sae-jin Posted : July 12, 2021, 15:18 Updated : July 12, 2021, 15:18

[Courtesy of CU]

SEOUL -- Through a regulatory sandbox that exempts regulations on new products or services for the quick development and demonstration of new technologies, South Korea's largest convenience store brand CU has started the operation of a vending machine for alcoholic drinks. Unmanned sales of alcoholic beverages could pave new roads for shop owners to introduce fully unmanned convenience stores.

There are some 600 unmanned stores, but alcoholic drink sales are prohibited because their payment system has no means of authenticating the age of customers. About 10 percent of convenience store sales come from alcoholic drinks.

BGF Retail, the operator of CU, said in a statement on July 12 that it has started the operation of an unmanned vending machine for alcoholic drinks at a resort facility in Goseong some 157 kilometers (97 miles) northeast of Seoul. The vending machine can authenticate customers using PASS, a smartphone identification app, or through credit card transactions.

The chain operator would deploy more vending machines at CU stores that run unmanned at night. The company's autonomous payment system will automatically check products picked up by customers.

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