Alipay’s Dragonfly Flies to Southern China
COVID-19 and China
Mobile payment applications. Photo: Credit to Alipay demonstration video

7-Eleven announced full access to Alipay’s facial-recognition payment device Dragonfly in Southern China this May. This strategic action indicates that around 1,000 7-Eleven chain stores in more than 11 cities in Southern China will be equipped with this plug-and-play device to realize a more safe and efficient way of mobile payment.

“Facial-recognition payment is very popular here.” said XU Shengli (徐胜利), the vice-president of 7-Eleven in southern China, “Within only one month after Dragonfly’s debut, the percentage of usage has far exceeded that of mobile payment compared to the six-months usage ratio after Alipay's inception.”

Among 67,480 7-Eleven stores worldwide, these 1,000 stores stand out for embracing the latest digital technology applications.

For the world's leading and most well-known convenience store, 7-Eleven importing the cutting-edge technology is not only to be in line with the trend of “technology brings convenience”, but also to conduct comprehensive upgrades of store operations, consumer experience, membership accumulation, and brand renewal.

Unlike other convenience chain stores who have consciously built a comprehensive system for membership operations, 7-Eleven adopts a different strategy. By franchise expansion, regional intensive store opening, strong product development and supply chain capabilities, 7-Eleven keeps its dominant position for the past 40 years of development.

However, the magnetic card used as a carrier of membership or the 7-Eleven App does not establish a close tie with members. The actual membership experience and the results of user conversion are very unsatisfactory. Since the membership operation benefits brought by these membership methods are limited to simple discount, products promotion and rewards for member points.

Together with Dragonfly, the face to face interaction device, 7-Eleven is searching for other possibilities.

Early this April, Alipay launched the second generation of Dragonfly (蜻蜓). Priced at 1999, the second generation of Dragonfly is 30% cheaper than the first generation and the size of the display screen shrinks from 10 inches to 8 inches, the device thickness decrease 75% and weight decreases 55%.

With 280,000 dragon-like compound eyes, the Dragonfly device can accurately recognize one’s identity with 0.01 seconds (five times faster than human eyes) and then complete the payment.

As we know that every Alipay user has already completed an ID authentication in the Alipay system. Therefore, through the high completeness of user information, the facial-recognition based membership might generate more energy than the traditional membership model. The user-identification confirmation, payment, experience feedback will be extremely useful for both Alipay and 7-Eleven to provide a precision marketing and service.

Besides 7-Eleven, Alipay cooperates with merchants in various offline consumption scenarios. The facial-recognition device applied in Lotus, a famous retail supermarket in Southern China, has saved 50% of waiting time at the check-out counter. Moreover, one Dragonfly of Alipay is equivalent to 1.5 cashiers so it would save more than CNY 130 million for Lotus each year.

Another example is the Jiangxi Provincial People's Hospital. By applying the Dragonfly device, cashier efficiency has improved by 50%.

With Alipay's great ambition in the future payment such as QR code payment, facial-recognition payment or even biological payment, it will greatly alter our consumption custom. In return, the new technology will be applied in more life scenarios.

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