Ubox is a Chinese app that brings mobile payments at vending machines to China for the first time. With apps for iPhone, Android, and JAVA-based feature phones already available on its site, the next challenge for Ubox is getting a network of supporting vending machines in place.
But first, how does it work? Users in China will need to sign-up for the service, and then ‘top-up’ their Ubox account with some money from either a UnionPay bank card, or Alipay, which is familiar to many in China from its use on the Taobao e-commerce site. With that done, it’s just a case of finding a vending machine and making your choice of snack or refreshment on your phone. The proprietary Ubox vending machines (pictured right) have essentially only one button that needs to be pressed – all the action takes place in the Ubox app.
Ubox CEO Han Xiao-fan, speaking in the introductory video (see below), points out the convenience of no longer needing the exact spare change, and also that the service gives a never-ending 10 percent discount on all products from its vending machines. Also, on sign-up, Ubox will give you a free five RMB of credit – good for two cans of teeth-rotting soda – to get the ball rolling.
The next step for Ubox is to get its hardware – the actual vending machines – into subway stations and malls across China, and then its apps can start to gain traction. On the bright side, Ubox has chosen the two biggest and most convenient payment methods to ensure ease of use. And, rumor has it, the Yun Feng investment firm has injected an unspecified amount of VC funding into Ubox. Here’s the company’s own introductory video: