In a move to advance the cashless society, Netclearance claims it has removed the need for cash payments at vending machines with the introduction of its latest smart beacon.
Netclearance, a smart beacon provider, has announced the U.S. launch of the mBeaconVend. It’s a mobile-agnostic beacon that allows vending machines to accept payments directly from a smart phone mobile wallet.
Beacons are small devices that transmit data over short distances via Bluetooth. To make it work you need two parts: a broadcaster (the beacon) and a receiver (your smartphone via an app). It’s this technology that allows mobile payments, such as Apple Pay.
In this instance, Netclearance says that by ‘using a customized mobile app, customers can simply wave their mobile device over the smart beacon to be shown the purchase amount, before confirming the payment on-screen.’
The good news it that it should also compatible with beacon profiles such as iBeacon (Apple’s standard) or Eddystone (Google). It should also be fairly easy to swap out with the existing coin box typically used by most vending machines.
David Fernandez, CEO at Netclearance, thinks the vending machine industry has been too slow to capitalize on the cashless economy in the United States.
“Mobile payments are both attractive and safe for consumers and have the power to revolutionize the purchasing experience, making payments more convenient and quick,” he said in a press release.
From a buyer’s point of view, finding the exact change can be a pain sometimes, and from the vendor’s side having the exact change on hand is difficult. This was pointed out to us by Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca.
“Making a payment for 45p or £1.20 without needing the coins and only a proximity pass from a device makes a lot of sense,” he told IoB.
Do we need this and what are the implications?
Many readers will be thinking whether there is actually a need for this technology, or whether it’s another silly ‘thing.’
Having said that, the implications for what this means to cash and mobile payments in our society is interesting. Cashless payments for vending machines is a small win, but how soon will this be extended to other areas of daily life? Parking tickets, for example.
The question is will consumers feel comfortable using this technology yet?
Just yesterday, Europol, the European law enforcement agency, released its ‘Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment’ yesterday. It identified payment fraud from contactless technology as one of the eight cyber-crime trends of 2016.
Bamforth was quick to stress that consumers need assurance that they have paid once and only once – and that it was from the right account.
“Another challenge is privacy and confidentiality regarding traceability. Many people will be comfortable with it, but when you pay [with] cash it’s pretty much untraceable. When you pay with a wave of a mobile payment system it’s recorded like all electronic transactions and could be tracked, measured and potentially controlled if you’re the type to worry about Big Brother.”
So perhaps this new tech won’t shake things up just yet, but what about in a few years’ time? Could it replace existing infrastructure, like ATMs?
According to Bamforth, “Notes are light and convenient and there is a certain assurance of the physical that many will take some time losing. That may change, there are costs in receiving and handling cash which could mean some suppliers of goods or services shifting, but it’s still a way off I think with strong external intervention.”