It is a constant struggle for many, and one of the ultimate first world problems – you have money, you can see the unhealthy treats and yet you cannot get at them.
That may be set to change though as TouchGo, a vending machine software company has announced it is partnering with VocaLink-owned Zapp to allow people to pay with their mobile phones at its UK vending machines.
Zapp differs from that other mobile payment service you might have heard something about recently after it got a little press coverage – Apple Pay – which links to your debit or credit card and allows you to pay with that through your phone.
Moving away from cash is a big milestone for vending machines as they have been historically limited to small value transactions, almost exclusively in the UK, through minted coins.
Opening up payment options to larger amounts allows for ATMs that stock bigger ticket items, such as TouchGo’s recent Boots ATM at London Gatwick airport, which uses a contactless card reader and carries items up to values of £15 ($24).
The move to Zapp follows TouchGo’ s integration of debit cards and contactless payments on to super-high-tech and not at vending machine-like: Microsoft Azure cloud connected, 46" touch screen, video enabled, big, shiny computer stuffed with things you can buy.
TouchGo has been in the industry of smart vending machines for a long time, it put the first vending machine to use contactless cards in the UK in Paddington station with Visa way back in 2009.
The vending machine is becoming a high-end computer stuffed with things you can buy
This evolution of vending machines has been slow coming due to the cost of card payments per transaction. Making a card payment for a transaction that costs less than one Dollar/Euro/Pound is not cost effective for either the vending machine owner or the customer. Zapp’s bank transfer model though is set to remove this hurdle.
Per Hovland, CEO of TouchGo, told EPI that prior to creating a Zapp compatible machine the company has previously worked with PayPal and Insignia to create non-cash vending machines.