Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Coke to deploy contactless vending machines

With all of the noise about contactless payment, biometric payment, RFID and even cellphone payment systems, it's not surprising to see that vending machines are being prepped to cash in on the contactless wave. As StorefrontBacktalk notes in a very brief clip, Coke is planning a line of vending machines that will support contactless payment methods. Noting that, "The United States is rapidly becoming a ‘plastic nation’ with fast food restaurants and convenience stores accepting credit and debit cards," Coca-Cola Marketing VP Thacher Worthen indiciated that Coke "feel[s] the time is right to begin providing these same payment options to our customers."

By handling less cash, the vending machines will have less wear and tear on their moving parts (though they'll still be capable of taking cash, of course), will theoretically require fewer service calls, and will be less of a target for thieves and vandals, since there ought to be less cash sitting in the machines at any given time.

Of course, for all of this to work, somebody will actually have to implement a contactless payment system that gets used in the US. Sure, I know they're all the rage in Japan and Korea. I've even seen a few people use them in Europe. But back here in the good ol' US of A, we're a few generations behind on portable technology, and despite the success of some contactless payment programs like Mobil's SpeedPass system, the concept hasn't really caught on yet. Perhaps with the plethora of new payment options available that will begin to change, but if Coke is planning a major deployment of the systems before a de-facto standard is established, they may be jumping the gun a bit.

Tags: vending, kiosks, self-service, contactless payment

No comments: