Retail

Israeli Innovation Accelerator Focuses On Retail

retail tech

Israel has long been a hotbed for digital innovation producing companies like Red Hat and Klarna. Now a new Israeli tech accelerator is turning its efforts toward retail innovation and helping to start new technologies for payments and biometrics.

Called the Retail Innovation Club, it was founded as a facilitator as well as an accelerator.

“We were actually founded in collaboration with Israel’s leading commercial real estate and retail groups,” Executive Director Oren Paran tells PYMNTS . “That way we could help our members get in on projects at an early stage. Together we teamed up in order to really understand the retail industry needs, challenges and opportunities, using our direct access to Israel’s startup network.”

Paran says the pandemic had some effects on the group members and on the spirit and intent of innovation in general. On the positive side he sees more focused efforts from his group, with startups focusing more on “must have” and not on “nice to have” solutions.

“We’re also seeing tech solutions shifting,” he says. “Healthcare startups have shifted into retail tech with in-store solutions. I also see that we had more spare time to gain maturity. Teams were able to take the time, fix the bugs, improve their products and they are fulfilling their customers’ demand instead of going to presentations all day. But on the negative side some companies will not survive this crisis. Early-stage companies that still don’t have a product or paying customers will have a hard time raising seed money as uncertainty is a killer.”

But some Retail Innovation Club members are up and running and looking for customers. For example, Preciate Pay is a biometric system that enables brick-and-mortar shoppers to pay without the use of a wallet, card or mobile phone. The payment is activated with a single glance from a proprietary mobile device that is controlled by the retailer. Preciate claims its system is the only one developed specifically for the retail industry.

Paran says Preciate Pay was designed and built by Israel’s leading cybersecurity experts. “In this age of security breaches and legitimate privacy concerns, we designed Preciate Pay to be the most secured, private solution in existence,” says Eyal Fisher, co-founder and VP R&D. “The solution is in full compliance with GDPR: The system’s data is fully secured, and high-level encryption (AES 256) is imposed. Shoppers give their explicit consent to self-enroll into the system, and their images are not stored in any capacity. The solution is built on one-way transformation of data, ensuring mathematical representation of customer’s faces cannot be used anywhere else.”

Here’s how it works: The retailer uses a tablet or mobile device provided by Preciate. That device is used to take “selfies” of customers who enroll in the system. From the costumer’s side, no application or device is required. There is a one-time registration through a URL, after which all checkouts are conducted by glancing at the checkout camera. There is also an optional Kiosk to allow quick self-checkout by customers. The solution is POS agnostic.

The club has also helped a company called SensePass which has developed a flexible mobile payments technology, SensePay, that enables brick-and-mortar stores as well as eCommerce retailers to accept any payment method, including loyalty points and coupons, as well as credit card and debit card-based transactions, through mobile apps. The company promises easy integration with POS systems and says it will process transactions at a “banking-grade” security level.

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