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SK networks to invest $25M in a U.S. startup for unmanned automated payment solution


- Standard, a startup for unmanned automated payment solution free from cashier queues and product scanning, with a high investment value as a leading model available for current retail stores while relevant technologies, e.g., Amazon Go, are popular
- SoftBank Vision Fund is the lead investor
- “To build a global networking through proactive investment for future technology and search for growth engines”

SK networks, while reinforcing its home care and mobility businesses, has been expanding its portfolio for future growing businesses through global investment focused on the Silicon Valley. It has now decided to invest in a startup specializing in automated solution for cashier-less stores.

SK networks announced on February 23rd, 2021 that it has recently decided to participate in a US$150 million round of Series C funding for Standard Cognition (based in Silicon Valley, California), a startup specializing in automated payment solution for retail stores in the U.S. The startup plans to use the funds for technology development and market expansion and SK networks will invest US$25 million.

Standard is a startup leading the digital transformation of current retail stores through unmanned automated payment solution using artificial intelligence (AI)-based computer vision. In collaboration with Circle K, the global convenience store brand, and Compass Group, the company recently launched official stores at various locations including the University of Houston using its technology. Standard became a unicorn company through this fundraising and plans to make more than 50,000 cashier-less stores in 5 years by working together with prominent global retail clients.

“Retailers worldwide find themselves in the midst of a perfect storm unprecedented in decades, as they struggle for razor-thin margins, battle the likes of Amazon and Walmart, and are beaten down by COVID-19,” said Jordan Fisher, Standard’s co-founder and CEO. He emphasized, “Standard’s AI-based solution implements cashier-less autonomous payment in current stores through quick and easy installation. In line with the contact-less era, this will provide an innovative shopping experience to customers.”

SoftBank Vision Fund is the lead investor in Standard’s Series C round, and SK networks is participating in the investment to reinforce the networking with global tech leaders, search for growth engines associated with future tech customer trends and build further business partnerships.

Last year, SK networks participated in a number of global funding projects including a U.S. data center infrastructure fund and venture capital fund related to a bio startup based on AI and big data. It has also continued its investment since March 2018 in Market Kurly, an e-commerce platform in Korea dealing with fresh groceries. Other 2020 investments include MyMusicTaste, a platform seeking global K-culture expansion, and CHAI, a fintech startup for mobile payment service.

Bong-woon Yoo, Head of SK networks Investment Management Center said, “The company will expand its investment portfolio in future leading technologies such as AI and data analytics to stay ahead of advanced technologies and build strong partnerships with promising companies inside and outside the country. In the meanwhile, it will also strive to turn these investments into profit and mid- to long-term strategic models.”

[Image Description] SK networks recently decided to invest US$25 million in Standard Cognition (based in California, U.S.), a startup specializing in automated payment solution for retail stores using AI-based computer vision. A customer at the store is using the cashier-less automated payment through the solution developed by Standard.