Vending payment systems – what are the choices?

If you are going to offer refreshments to your staff, you will find that you have numerous options to choose from before deciding on how your staff are going to pay for this service.

Cashless solutions can be the answer and have shown in many situations to boost revenue from the vending machines.  It goes without saying that, if something is easy to use, you will use it more regularly.

Using a credit card immediately comes to mind but there are employee cards that can be connected to apps and of course introducing loyalty programmes can encourage staff to increase their buying habits. Installing Telemetry can capture consumer data and be used to offer promotions and of course the vending machines can then become interactive, connected and smart. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

We have specialists in our team that can advise on this challenging and frequently changing area, as it’s important to get the payment system that’s right for your business and that both you and your employees can enjoy the benefits on offer.

Where does cashless vending go next?


A new report that looked into data from hospitality businesses, predicts that by 2021, the number of payments made electronically will overtake the number of those made in cash.




This has obvious repercussions for the vending industry, which must embrace the new payment methods – using card, contactless or mobile devices – but not forgetting that some people still like to pay in cash. At the end of the day, all payment methods must be simple and quick if businesses are to remain competitive.

There is much talk about the rise of “cryptocurrencies”, such as Bitcoin, and what part they will play in vending in the coming years. In fact, one cashless payment company has already launched their cryptocurrency payment system for vending machines.

The company acknowledges that “it may take a little time” for consumers to take-up this method of payment, but is confident that the enhanced privacy and direct transfers are likely to win consumers over, as the technology becomes better known.

New kiosks for micromarkets

U.S. based company Olea Kiosks is rolling out two new models designed for micromarket developers and operators.

They are the small freestanding California model and the ultra-compact Carolina. Both can be serviced from the front side for against-the-wall applications.

Olea’s systems come with 19″ touchscreen monitors and barcode scanners that can be used for products, loyalty cards and cellphones. They accept cash, credit cards, Apple Pay or payment through biometrics. They can be accessed by landline, Wi-Fi or cellular connections and have colour and graphic options that allow operators to integrate their brands.



New system makes going cashless easier

Crane Merchandising Systems is making it easier for vending operators to install cashless with the latest firmware update for the Navigator telemetry platform. Installation is now truly “plug and play” — no phone calls, no handhelds and no USB sticks required.

Upon power-up the Navigator will configure itself and be immediately ready to accept credit cards – driving an average same store sales increase of over 20%. Also included in this update are diagnostic tests that ensure the solution is working properly.

“The new firmware has already been pushed over the air to every Navigator device online in the field at no charge and is available for immediate use,” said a Crane spokesperson.  “We designed the Navigator from the beginning to last. These capabilities are available in the first Navigator ever shipped in 2010 and the ones shipped yesterday — demonstrating the power of the Navigator platform. This is the key to being truly future-proofed.”

“The Navigator’s diagnostic capabilities will assure operators that their device is working correctly as soon as installation is completed without needing to carry a test card.  We are focused on making it as easy as possible for vending operators to take advantage of the demonstrated benefits of cashless – most importantly same-store sales growth. We are also making it easy by offering a variety of pricing and financing options to help customers Get Connected.”

The contactless payment card has arrived

MasterCard and Zwipe have announced their partnership for the launch of the world’s first contactless payment card featuring an integrated fingerprint sensor.

This comes after a successful live pilot and aims to be an answer to the difficult challenge of providing a fast, convenient payment solution that does not compromise on security.

The card is the first of its kind to combine the security of biometric authentication with the speed and convenience of contactless payment. Cardholder fingerprint data is stored directly on the card, not in an external database. After activation by a simple fingerprint scan, the card can be used to make contactless payments. The biometric authentication replaces the PIN entry, thus enabling cardholders to make payments of any amount, unlike other contactless payment cards on the market.

Zwipe is now working on the next generation of its card that will be the same format as a standard card and designed to work with all payment terminals for release in 2015. This new card will harvest energy from the payment terminals without the need for a battery.


Cashless vending system is ready for Apple Pay

Cantaloupe Systems said it now supports Apple Pay, the contactless payment application that will be available for the iPhone 6. Apple Pay, which will be released in October, will work at vending machines running Cantaloupe’s Seed Cashless mobile payments solution without a hardware upgrade or additional costs to operators.

Apple Pay uses near field-communication technology (NFC) for secure data exchange with the Seed Cashless card reader. Leading Android mobile payment apps like Google Wallet and Softcard (formerly Isis) also use NFC. Seed Cashless card readers have always included NFC capability. To use Apple Pay, consumers will need an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus running a software update that Apple is planning to release in October.

Cantaloupe expects operators to see significant payment volume from Apple Pay. A spokesperson from the company said, “We’ve always included NFC technology in every card reader, because we predicted that the payments industry would eventually coalesce on NFC and we didn’t want our customers to get stuck with swipe-only hardware that would soon become obsolete. This decision was validated again when Apple chose to follow Google and others in using NFC.”

Vending operators who want to accept mobile payments should demand NFC support from their cashless supplier. If there’s no NFC radio in the external card reader or built into the door of newer machines that have a swipe-only card reader, then an expensive upgrade will be needed.

However, Seed Cashless also accepts traditional magnetic stripe credit and debit cards. This flexibility will permit consumers to gradually migrate from plastic to mobile at their own pace, while operators capture the maximum possible cashless sales during the transition.


Vending needs to go cashless

One strong theme that emerged from a seminar hosted by the UK’s Automatic Vending Association (AVA) was that there was a need to implement cashless systems or risk excluding 54% of consumers.

During one of the debates on the subject, it was reported that cash payments are still dominating, with 52% of all payments in the UK in 2013 made this way. However, with “23 per cent fewer coins issued by the CDWP since 2008”, non-cash payments are expected to overtake cash by 2015, while the value of cash payments is predicted to fall by £9 billion (4%).

However, while the use of cash in the UK is declining, the public is not yet ready to become cashless, and to ensure the vending industry continued to flourish, businesses should look towards pairing cash payments with innovative cashless payment options. While the UK marketplace is still very reliant on cashless transactions for values over £20, for amounts less than this, cash remains the preferred method of payment, particularly for those using vending machines and unattended payment systems.

Looking ahead, it is predicted that by 2020, 50% of transaction volume will come from ‘contactless’ payment systems, and is “almost certain that contactless will overtake chip and pin”, signifying an unstoppable momentum in the UK. Heavily driven by transport, particularly the impending introduction of cashless payment on Transport for London buses, the behavioural shift currently underway is at a level never seen before.

A survey of 4,000 Britons revealed that the ‘ability to pay’ was their main concern with vending. With figures showing that £46.7 billion was spent on cards in April alone, and of that, £109.2 million was contactless, the vending industry must respond and adapt to this increasing consumer demand, or risk “excluding 54% of consumers who never carry cash”.

While the debate turned to the introduction of the new £1 coin in 2017, it was stated that now was the perfect opportunity to implement new technologies, such as contactless, in order to meet consumer demand. Overall, the short term outlook pointed heavily towards demand for new, industry-wide contactless and cashless payment systems. While in the long-term, the growth of Smartphone and mobile payment apps is likely to gain momentum. In the short term, using technology to open up more payment options for the consumer will not only increase sales, it will also improve customer convenience and experience.


Innovative mobile payments

Harris+Hoole, the speciality coffee venture, is promising to radically alter the consumer experience by becoming the UK’s first retailer to allow customers to pay without having to touch, tap, or scan at a counter.

H+H’s innovative mobile app has been enhanced to include a new payments facility, giving customers the option to load pre-paid amounts upfront.

By checking in as they enter the shop, prepaid customers will be able to have a barista hand craft coffee made to their personal preferences in just one tap on their mobile. Unlike with other app payment solutions, when customers get to the till, there is no need to get their phone out again. They simply need to confirm they will be paying by app when the barista asks, and everything else is done automatically.

The app revolutionises the in-store payments process, integrating with the point of sale (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) tool to create an effortless transaction experience; it also has the ability to set “My Usual”.

The new payments facility, paired with a new till system, is currently being rolled out across all 36 Harris+Hoole shops.


Could ‘wearable’ payments be the future?

New research in the States is examining how rings, wristbands, watches and other “wearable” items are being used for payments in place of physical and mobile wallets.

In places such as amusement parks, museums and schools, wristbands and other wearable devices are being fitted with contactless chips to enable their use as payment devices.  Acceptance in some cases is limited to a few vending machines located on a particular property. In others, the payment option is accepted by multiple unaffiliated merchants. Some makers of wearable payment devices have made use of MasterCard and Visa’s networks to offer an open-loop product that will work wherever contactless payments are accepted.

Other companies have reportedly built wearable payment devices for particular “psychographics.” Helping runners, cyclists and other “pocketless” athletes eliminate the need for physical bills and cards was the idea behind one application for wearable payments cited in the research.

The firm undertaking the research is confident that wearable devices will find a place in the grand scheme of payments, but what remains to be determined is whether they will just serve niche applications like theme parks, or find widespread use, alongside cards and cash. They pointed out that while the future of wearable devices depends on the adoption of contactless technology, their uses could also help drive the adoption of that technology. As with mobile technology, adoption of wearable payments will come in stages that may seem disjointed, the industry research firm predicted.

New ‘Coin’ cashless medium

In the States, a new cashless medium, not on the market yet, is grabbing the attention of technophiles and merchants: Coin, a credit card-sized device that can store as many as eight credit and debit card accounts.

Coin has also caught the attention of many skeptics. So the maker of the all-in-one digital credit card is adding new security features to address concerns raised by potential users who got their first look at the prototype in mid-November. The Coin card is designed to replace every credit, bank, gift and loyalty card in consumers’ wallets by letting them scan each of these instruments into a single device that syncs with their smartphones. It currently works with both iPhone and Android devices.

Cards are added to Coin using a mobile card reader that plugs into a phone’s headphone jack. Once users create an account for the service, Coin creates a mobile version of the card within the app. A button on the front allows users to select their card of choice. A tiny LED screen displays the last four digits of the card they are using and its expiration date.

Critics have questioned whether sensitive data stored in the digital card are secure. They have also raised concern that a cashier might accidentally hit the button on the way to the register and swipe the wrong card. Some worry that Coin owners could steal credit cards and scan them into their digital devices. Another logistical concern is whether Coin would work if the user’s smartphone battery died.

In response to these concerns, Coin said it will add a button to the card that users can tap in “Morse-code-like” fashion to reactivate it even if their phone is out of charge. The company said it will also add a system that lets users know how many times their cards are being swiped, and alert them if someone is using their cards when it isn’t near them. Finally, the device will “lock” on one particular card, so retailers won’t inadvertently switch the selected payment method.

The company emphasised that the Coin app will be password-protected and that all card information is encrypted. Coin explained that its app requires users to take a picture of the front and back of each card, type in the card details and then swipe the card using the provided reader to ensure the card’s encoded magnetic stripe data match the card details. It is thus impossible to complete these steps unless the user is in physical possession of a card, according to Coin. As an additional safeguard, the Coin app will only allow user to add cards they own. The Coin card is planned for a summer 2014 release. Coin is developing the device for the U.S. market, but said it plans to add capability to support the global EMV standard in future versions of the device.