Many types of businesses rely on unattended payment systems to serve their customers. In addition, forward-thinking retailers are investing in self-serve options to extend their reach beyond typical business hours and into new markets. However, older unattended payment systems may not have the functionality needed to meet the demands of customers who are increasingly preferring cashless transactions using digital payment methods.
In recent years, demand for convenient, flexible, and efficient self-serve payment systems has risen dramatically. This is due to a combination of factors, including advancements in payment technologies and changing consumer purchasing preferences. While cash used to be king, it has now been dethroned by a diverse range of cashless payment methods including debit cards, credit cards, and mobile wallet payment apps.
For businesses who leverage unattended and self-serve payment terminals, this presents a challenge. Accepting some of these new payment methods is simply not possible with certain older payment processing systems. It may be that the existing machines are still using cash-only payment tech. Or it could be that they are equipped with a credit card or debit card swipe reader, but not a chip-and-PIN reader or contactless NFC capabilities. Regardless, there is an undeniable need to upgrade existing unattended systems and keep up-to-date with critical trends in payment technology and evolving customer behaviour.
Trends in Unattended Vending Payments
The most prominent trend in the world of unattended payments certainly has to be the widespread adoption of cashless payment methods by consumers. The many advantages that cashless payments have to offer are significant, and the increasing percentage of customers who are simply not carrying cash any more definitely speaks to this fact. People enjoy the convenience that cashless payments bring by being able to use the same payment methods at multiple businesses, and not having to waste time visiting the bank or ATM for cash. Customers want to be able to use their debit and credit cards for unattended payments, but these aren’t the only payment methods that are increasing in use. Digital wallets like those by Apple and Google are surging in popularity, and these smartphone payment apps are rapidly becoming a preferred payment method for many customers.
Another important trend is the increased diversity in the types of products and services that can be obtained through unattended payment terminals. More businesses than ever are looking to unattended payment solutions as a way to get in front of new customer segments, expand to new markets, and boost sales. These types of self-serve payment systems are far from being limited to snack vending machines and parking garages. Today, you can purchase almost anything using an unattended self-serve payment terminal. Even not-for-profit businesses are adopting unattended tap-to-donate stations to raise funds and increase the reach of their charitable organization.
In addition to helping businesses adapt to these important trends, there are many distinct advantages that modern payment processing terminals have to offer when compared to older, less-capable systems. Let’s examine these advantages in more detail.
Advantages of New Payment Processing Terminals for Unattended Vending Machines
The first thing you’ll notice about a new payment terminal is how much faster they are in processing payments. Unattended Terminals that use contactless NFC tap-to-pay technology require fewer interactions to complete a transaction, eliminating the need for card swipes and PIN code entry. Customers can complete their purchase and be on their way in much less time. Digital wallet payment apps are faster still, as customers don’t even need to dig through a wallet or purse to locate the correct credit or debit card. They can simply tap the screen on their smartphone to select their desired payment method, place their device near the NFC reader, and complete the transaction in mere seconds.
Security is another major concern for businesses and consumers alike. Data theft and transaction fraud are real threats that businesses must protect themselves against. Modern payment terminals are far more secure thanks to multi-layer authentication protocols and data encryption. Payment information is secured using ‘tokenization’ technology. Tokenization creates a unique one-time-use transaction data packet to perform the authorization and verification between the merchant account and the customer account. This process renders the transaction data worthless to thieves who would attempt to use it to create fraudulent transactions.
Another key advantage is that advanced unattended payment terminals are exceptionally flexible in the types of business applications they can be used with. With programmable logic, customizable digital touchscreens, and intuitive user interface design, there’s almost no limit to what these payment terminals can do. Everything from an electric vehicle charging station to a one-of-a-kind custom vending machine solution is made possible thanks to the capabilities of modern unattended payment terminals from MONEXgroup.
One notable benefit of upgrading to a new type of unattended payment terminal for your self-serve payment stations is the ability to remotely connect to each individual terminal to perform many critical business tasks. From virtually any location, business managers can log into the back-end of their unattended payment stations and do things like update pricing, configure purchasing options, and update the user interface. You can even obtain real-time sales data and reports so you can analyze the performance of your unattended stations. These insights can help your business develop a more impactful strategy and even identify trends that you may have otherwise missed.
Upgrade Existing Self-Serve Systems with New Unattended Payment Terminals
Before an existing vending system can be upgraded with a new unattended payment terminal, several questions must be answered to ensure the solution will deliver the results needed. The easiest question to answer is whether the payment terminal will be installed in an interior location, or if it will be located outside where it will be subjected to changing weather. Interior-placed terminals may not require any alterations to the construction or configuration of the payment units. However, outdoor payment systems will certainly need to be weatherproofed and ruggedized in order to ensure reliable operation in all types of harsh environmental conditions including rain, snow, and extreme temperature swings.
Next, it must be determined which types of payment methods must be accepted by the system. In some cases, where tap-to-pay cards and digital wallets are commonplace, a 100% contactless payment system may be the preferred solution. In other situations, there may very well be enough demand in the market for older-style swipe-cards that the new system must be compatible with all possible payment methods.
Once the location of the unattended payment terminals and the capabilities have been determined, next is looking at the compatibility of the hardware and software of the existing vending or self-serve stations. Depending on the combination of hardware and software in use, it may be necessary to replace or upgrade certain components in order to accommodate the enhanced capabilities of a modern unattended payment processing terminal. Specifically, the main distribution board (MDB) of older vending machines is one of the most common components that will need to be replaced to work with a modern payment terminal. Fortunately this is a low-cost upgrade, and it is a very simple process to change out a vending system MDB in most machines.
In addition, when a main distribution board is replaced, it is usually necessary to install a new display unit as well. The MDB, display board, and the payment processing terminal all need to communicate with each other in order for the whole system to function properly. However, some machine configurations may allow the display functionality to be incorporated directly into the touchscreen of the payment terminal, eliminating the need to install a separate display unit. If you are unsure exactly what components may need to be replaced or upgraded in your existing unattended payment systems, contact the team here at MONEXgroup today, and we will be glad to assist you.
Another consideration when retrofitting existing unattended stations with new payment terminals is the level of support your business will need now and into the future to help achieve your goals. Choosing the right unattended payment systems is one thing, but the technology alone is not enough. It needs to be backed up by the right merchant services provider who is committed to the success of your business. When evaluating your options for new payment solutions, be sure to also evaluate the merchant services providers and find out what level of support they will offer you.