Cashless Vending Machines Cater for Reducing Cash Payments

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 9 min read

Vending machines are in danger of getting left behind. It’s not because vending machines are no longer an attractive convenience to customers, but because of the trends we are seeing in payments, combined with an expansion of the types of products vending machines can sell.

What we’ve seen in the last few years, is growing evidence that cash payments are declining. A recent report showed that in the UK, for the first time ever the number of cashless payments outstripped cash payments. The majority of vending machines are outdated however and still only accept cash payments. It’s a problem – as more and more people leave the house with just their debit or credit card, or maybe even just their phone, and no cash on them, many vending machines are becoming obsolete.

The problem is exacerbated even more when you consider the types of products that vending machines have started to accommodate. It’s not uncommon to see vending machines that sell products over £10. Perhaps a phone charger at a hospital, or travel supplies at an airport. In Some countries, such as Japan, where multiple forms of payments have been embraced for vending machines for a long time, all kinds of products are sold, even t-shirts. The types of products that can be sold with vending machines are much more varied when you don’t limit payments to cash.

How to keep vending machines relevant?

There is one U.S company that is trying to get round this problem. PayRange is a startup that has recently raised $12 million in venture funding. It’s a company that is trying to retro-fit old vending machines that only accept cash, to now accept debit and credit card payments. The solution works with a device that is plugged into the back of vending machines. Then if customers have the PayRange app downloaded, they can use their smartphone to approve a card payment. You need a decent wireless connection and Bluetooth for the whole system to work but it’s a very good solution – much cheaper than the alternative, of purchasing completely new top of the range vending machines.

BioStore’s cashless vending machines

What we do here at BioStore is offer vending machine experiences that are completely cashless too. We sanction the payment using our multi-factor authentication system though. Payment is then made by just the scan of an ID card or the scan of a fingerprint, with funds being withdrawn from an existing online account. Of course, our solution does not work in the wild, but it gives organisations already taking advantage of BioStore’s cashless catering solutions, a way to offer any users registered on the system a quick, seamless and cashless way of using any vending machines on site. Of course, anyone not registered on the system can still pay by cash.

But like PayRange, we agree that purchasing completely new vending machines with updated technology is not always viable for organisations, especially when they have perhaps already invested in vending machines that are operational. That’s why we are happy to say BioStore has the same ability to retro fit vending machines to accept payments authenticated by an ID smart card or biometric. In schools, offices and leisure centres it can be a really powerful solution.

In schools, parents can keep an eye on and monitor their child’s diet when their vending machine activity is recorded. At a leisure centre, customers could use the same identification they used to access facilities and the same ID used to activate a locker, for any items offered by their vending machines – whether that be a simple snack or something like a fresh clean towel. In an office, the same ID authentication that got staff into the building and logged on to their computers, is all they need for a vending machine or for getting their morning coffee. Of course it’s not just standard snack vending machines BioStore can integrate with and retro-fit. Any cash operated dispensing machine, such as a coffee machine, can be transformed by BioStore to accept cashless payments.

Vending machines still have a great value proposition. They have not out-stayed their welcome, they just need a bit of a face-lift. New vending machines that have the capacity to accept every type of payment imaginable is great – but it’s good that retro-fit solutions are emerging, so the huge infrastructure and investment in existing vending machines is not wasted and they can continue to be profitable, useful and convenient.

Related links & news stories:

TechCrunch: PayRange, A Startup That Enables Vending Machines To Take Credit Cards For Payment, Raises $12M

Fortune: This company wants to transform old vending machines

BioStore: Cashless vending