Drink Machines

Can Your Existing Vending Machines Take Credit Cards

Vending Machine Card ReaderThe question of whether you can retrofit your vending machines to take credit cards is at the top of mind for many independent and corporate vending services. The appearance of card-accepting drink machines in malls and public places, added to the presence of candy and snack machines that allow you to swipe a debit or credit card, means that the industry has already shifted.

A secondary part of the cost of vending authentication involves the way that credit card readers for vending machines verify cards and settle batches. Machines typically use cellphone networks to connect and validate cards. The good part of this is that you can get real-time inventory and send out workers to re-stock popular items. The bad news, of course, is that you have to pay for cellphone network connectivity. On the plus side, adjacent machines can talk to each other with RDP (remote data port) features.

Non-Compliant Machines Being Scrapped?

A crisis is occurring in the world of vending, and the timing could not be worse. Previously, a machine could be amortized over years after purchase, and require only periodic maintenance. In fact, most issues revolved around how to get into offices during business hours in order to restock drinks and snacks while collecting the proceeds. Quite a few mom-and-pop operators either operated such devices as a side business or a steady income, thanks to the ownership of multiple machines in a fixed geographic area. Soft drink and candy machines might work for as long as 30 years. By far the biggest change over time was the presence of dollar bill acceptors in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and many of these original machines are still in use today. Unfortunately, many older devices don't have the capacity to take credit cards, or the reading equipment cannot easily be retrofit. On top of this, the switch to swipe-based machines has gotten facilities owners to demand more efficient drink and snack machines, since the cost of electricity is typically borne by the property where the machines are located.

In another detail that is up in the air, EMV compliant vending machines may be the rule after 2015, unless owners decide they are willing to assume the fraud liability for transactions. While most drink, frozen food, and candy machines may not experience a high level of fraud, the ones that sell high-end goods like iPads and Headphones are at risk of being the victim of stolen cards, especially after the rest of the country migrates to chip-and-pin authentication.

List of Vending Machine Card Readers

For those machines that can be retrofit to take debit and credit cards, it pays to work with a processor that offers the lowest possible rates on card acceptance. The downside for consumers is that it often costs up to 35 cents extra for candy and snacks in order to offset anticipated processing costs. Therefore, the #1 thing a vending franchise can do to save money is negotiate lower rates in advance of purchases for upgrades. When buying new card-friendly soda and snack devices, be sure that you have a choice of processors, since some manufacturers may have proprietary devices. They could be offering "discounts" or "trade ins" for the upgrade because they will be getting a piece of the aforementioned 35 cent markup on every item purchased for the life of the machine.

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