(Yicai Global) June 11 -- Chinese checkout-free convenience store operator Xingbianli has completed a new round of multi-million yuan financing despite reported cost-saving measures, including job cuts. It shows investors' confidence in unmanned retail stores in a fast-growing market as Alibaba Group Holding's financial affiliate Ant Financial Services Group led the latest round of funding.
The firm received funds worth hundreds of millions of yuan from Ant Financial, followed by its existing shareholders, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed China Partners, China Renaissance, and Vision Plus Capital, Yicai Global learned from the company.
The tech startup wrapped up an angel round of financing of nearly CNY100 million (USD15.6 million) led by Lightspeed China Partners last September, followed by a CNY380 million A1 round led by Sequoia Capital China in November.
China is ahead of the game in automated retail, which eliminates labor costs and speeds shopping, thanks to widespread use of mobile payment systems such as Ant Financial's Alipay and Tencent Holdings' WeChat Wallet, which together have a market share of more than 90 percent. The unmanned convenience store openings come amid a spate of big investments and consolidation in this fast-emerging and much-vaunted sector.
The strategic investment by Ant Financial in Xingbianli includes funds and resources worth hundreds of millions of yuan. However, the firm cannot disclose the exact amount of investment at this stage, a source at Xingbianli told Yicai Global.
Shanghai's Xingbianli and Ant Financial will initiate deeper business cooperation, the source added, as the Hangzhou-based financial services heavyweight plans to integrate biometrics and consumer credit system technologies into the overall design of Xingbianli's "Xing +" intelligent stores and shopping process.
The new-generation unmanned retail model, "Xing +" intelligent stores, has passed test runs at selected locations, and the service is now being rolled out, Yicai Global learned.
The upgrade aims to improve intelligent hardware and the shopping process, which will be streamlined to save users' time, the source said.
Editor: Mevlut Katik