In a WeChat Open Class Pro last October, Geng Zhijun, vice president of the WeChat business group, officially unveiled WeChat Frog Pro, a dual-display facial-recognition smart device.Back on March 19, 2019 before the product was launched, the WeChat Pay team had deployed payment machines with facial recognition functions in cities like Shenzhen and Nanjing, in a bid to seize the market. After market research, the WeChat team put the focus of facial recognition for payments on supermarkets in first- and second-tier cities, such as Carrefour, Rainbow, Liqun Supermarket, etc., which has been proven to be a successful move.
But the real take-off of Frog Pro happened after the WeChat team announced the WeChat Mini Program Framework (WMPF) in a WeChat Open Class Pro this year. In fact, the framework has long been installed in Frog Pro machines, which represents the integration of the two. What can be achieved with the trio of Mini Programs, facial recognition and commercial hardware in stores? Let’s dig deeper into WeChat Frog Pro.
● I.What is WeChat Frog Pro?
WeChat “Frog” is a plug-and-play payment device mainly used at manual checkout counters. It can replace scanners to do code-scanning payment when connected to POS machines without the need to make any modifications to the POS machines.
It also supports “pay with face” functions on WeChat, which is achieved with components like 3D depth-of-field lenses, infrared flood light and sensor for distance. When coupled with AI learning algorithms, they can finish a payment within one second. 99.99% of the payments can be done in one face scan, thereby putting the payment security on par with transactions in the financial industry.
At first glance, it seems that Frog Pro is simply a pay-with-face device, but there is much more to it. Face scanning is not only the start of payment, but also the first step for users to enter the WeChat ecosystem. After facial recognition, you are opening tools like Mini Programs or membership systems in WeChat, where you get to look at how many membership points you have and what goods are in the stores.
Whenever a user gets access to a Frog Pro device, she can enter her own WeChat account after facial recognition. Just like WeChat is loaded in a car through its auto version, it is put in a commercial device by Frog Pro. Till now, WeChat Cards, interactive posters and applets have all been connected with Frog Pro. Through a single face-scan, the data can be displayed on the smart device.
● II.WeChat Cards, interactive posters and applets, all in one
WeChat Frog Pro, as a smart hardware, can only be fully leveraged when it is put into real applications. When coupled with interactive posters, Mini Programs and WeChat Cards, it builds the powerful connection between the WeChat ecosystem and the smart device entries in physical stores. The WeChat payment team said that WeChat Frog Pro is another possibility for WeChat to be opened in offline scenarios. With this small device, merchants can put the stunning amount of WeChat traffic into their stores.
After years of research on the “payment + membership” model, the WeChat payment team found that membership is of particular importance to offline merchants. Thus, the “getting membership right after face scan” solution became where WeChat Frog Pro is headed. In the past, it is a valuable but tiresome job for offline merchants to manage members since it takes huge efforts to conduct communications and hold activities to attract members and maintain their loyalty. However, merchants can expect members’ stickiness to easily go up when WeChat Frog Pro is linked to customers’ cards on WeChat, which helps membership activation and accumulation of points.
In addition to the pay-with-face function and membership attraction, Frog Pro can assist merchants in membership management. The face scanning process is fast and intuitive. During payments, users can tap the button in the corner and open the membership page. After registration, they can view their points, discounts and coupons.
For example, Pacific Coffee runs its own membership applet on Frog Pro and connects it to the checkout counters. When a customer opens the applet after face scanning, she can quickly sign up as member with her phone number, for which she is rewarded with discounts for the first order. For a patron who already joined the membership, she is automatically logged in (with the verification code sent to the checkout counter), and can pay with one click.
The interactive posters can make communication more efficient through intelligent configuration and quick updates so that the customers will have better experience. As a saying goes, a picture is better than a thousand words. An exquisitely made poster may have better effect than touting. Frog Pro serves as a bridge between service providers and employees so that smoother communication is made and better service is delivered.
For instance, when taking customers’ orders for drinks, employees can save the trouble of repeatedly selecting items from the system, now that the customers’ past purchases and goods on sales are displayed on screen. When ordering, customers can operate on the screen together with the clerk, saving the need to explain in words their demands about sugar and ice.
WeChat Mini Programs
The applets provide merchants with more possibilities for operation.Firstly, marketing applets can be tools for business owners. Developers can build tools to manage and incentivize employees like clerks and promoters.
Secondly, the applets can facilitate offline transactions. For those merchants who already have applets, they can put them on the Frog Pro machines, so that customers can see the new products and membership discounts in the applets opened after face scan.
Thirdly, it realizes more potential scenarios. Thanks to the prevalence of WeChat, Frog Pro can be used in almost all payment scenarios for users, such as restaurants, hotels, cinemas, subway stations, banks and malls. When there is need, there is opportunities for developers. The security and convenience brought by facial recognition technology will give user experience a leg-up while boosting efficiency of operation.
In the WeChat Open Class Pro this year, Yonghe King showcased an applet-based solution it co-built with Skyee, a WeChat service provider. It is able to put together the POS system from company A, membership software from company B, electronic invoice from company C, and the new merchant coupon system that WeChat Smart business recently rolled out, so that a single ordering system can serve its customers in multiple scenarios. A waiter can take the order on the screen of Frog Pro on his side, and let the customer check his membership discounts, finish payments and get electronic invoices on the screen on his side. The waiter can also take orders, provide services, interact with customers on a tablet or other portable devices, which diversify and mobilize catering services.
The number of orders, membership information and payment status can be viewed anywhere on all devices.
In the past, if restaurants want to introduce new services, they can only do it by replacing the existing software and systems. That is unfavorable because: it costs a lot of time and money; it’s hard for employees to get accustomed to the new system; it runs the risk of obsolesce brought by fast technological upgrade. However, Mini Programs have offered them with new options that enable them to make their service smarter and more efficient while maintaining their current hardware, software and service procedures.
WeChat Frog Pro is an entry for applets, and the functionalities of applets can empower the merchant’s version of Frog Pro. The facial recognition is merely one of the many features of Frog Pro. The systems can give merchants more possibilities to enhance users’ experience. The smart ecosystem of WeChat will stick to an open and shared model. Businesses, governments, industries and other players in the ecosystem can jointly develop new products, functions and solutions including smart hardware, thus bolstering smart operation in the market.
Owing to this new device, it takes much less effort for offline business owners to reach their customers, promote their membership, and integrate scenarios before, during and after consumption. In short, the merchants have gained better connecting abilities now.In the future, the Frog family will bring more functions to foster enhancement in performance and capacities, so that merchants can reach new high in their efforts to build digitalized operation.