Self-Service Payments

How Unattended Kiosks Generate 24 Hour Money

Payment technology and the rise of plastic payments has created an opportunity for businesses, charities, churches, and even government agencies in the form of kiosks, which are much like ATMs that don't dispense cash. These unattended machines will accept payments, donations, and tithes then provide a receipt, or tickets, or a voucher. Common characteristics of payment kiosks are that they may have a touchscreen or ATM keys, will have a slot for sliding the payment card, and have a printer for dispensing a receipt. In the case of tithing there is often a ticket printed to place in an envelope so you don't endure the social stigma of not putting something in the collection plate that goes by, even though Matthew 6:3 pretty much says that you should not be making a show of your donation anyway, so a more judicious use of the kiosk could be someplace out of sight so your donation is more anonymous.

Business and Government Kiosks

Credit Card Kiosk Many business kiosks have cropped up over the years with varying functions. As an example, hotels have automated check-in kiosks that dispense room keys, movie theaters will let you buy tickets outside the normal line, and utility companies have kiosks in stores for payments. Customizing software and hardware to work together is actually possible using affordable off-the-shelf tools, and there are vendors who can build one or a hundred models designed to suit your needs. For reservations and ticketing, there may be more robust applications necessary to integrate with existing systems and then take a payment, but for other purchases it may be as simple as taking a card number and then creating vouchers or scrip that is used later on in the purchasing process. For example, there are many medicinal dispensaries that use a third party kiosk ("cashless ATM") to create a scrip that is exchanged for products.

Government kiosks are common for admission to museums, for park passes and user fees, and for licenses. Agencies looking to create a secure 24 hour payment system may place their kiosks in areas like supermarkets or stores that are always open. City and state governments often use kiosks more than Federal agencies.

A last note on self-service kiosks is the anticipated prominence of fast-food ordering with touchscreens due to expected increases in the local and national minimum wage. Franchise owners are looking to streamline their payrolls which would otherwise become unprofitable with additional employees, so otherwise literate frontline workers will be replaced with computer screens. Even though there has been some computerized ordering since the 1990s, the future holds more robo-workers and self-service restaurants, along with more panhandlers waiting outside the door who once worked inside until the prevailing wage rendered them unemployable, but at least you can feel smug about legislating helpfulness.

Tablet Credit Card Processing Kiosks

The rise of iPads and Android tablets, as well as little plug-in dongles that are used as card swipers, has led to a variety of apps that handle ordering and processing. You can now customize charity donations to specify whether you are paying for a church mission or vacation bible school, and you can similarly program apps for NGO and relief donations that get directed to specific accounts or fundraising drives. Most iPad kiosks may include accessories designed to secure the tablet to a tabletop, and may even include receipt printers or interactive features. The advantage to these mini-kiosks is that they are portable and can communicate with Wi-Fi networks so they are essentially cordless until the battery runs out, or require only a power cord. Some 3G and 4G devices will communicate with a cellphone data network so you can authorize payments anywhere.