Why vending machines are so expensive and why that will change

An article by

Andreas Wegmann

Published on


Updated on


Reading time

2 min

Vending machines are growing in popularity, and the pandemic has made this trend even stronger. The annual growth worldwide is almost 10%. Which factors are holding back this growth and why will it soon be easier and cheaper to operate vending machines?

Vending machine cost factors

Apart from the authorization to set up a vending machine, trouble-free operation of the device is important. A device must be able to withstand all environmental influences, as well as vandalism and attempted break-ins. Machines with a cash payment option are more often the target of break-in attempts than cashless machines. Modules for cashless payment are not only expensive because of a vandal-proof card reader and PIN pads, they also require communication with the network operator for transaction processing. After all, with cashless machines, the costs for cash testing devices and cash disposal can be dispensed with.

The control panel for the product selection must also be armed against attempts at destruction, because it is precisely on this that the anger discharges in the event of a malfunction.

Vending machines without expensive components?

The functions of the cash module, card reader module and the selection of goods can be relocated to the buyer’s smartphone using the mobile app. The most expensive components of a device can therefore be omitted when using smartphones. The customer can select the product contactlessly on his own cell phone and pay with the preferred payment method on his cell phone.

Critical functions are relocated to the customer’s smartphone and they think it’s great!

Most vending machine users almost always have a smartphone. By downloading a mobile app, goods are selected and paid for on the device that the customer knows and trusts very well: his own mobile phone. In the event of a malfunction, the machine is no longer the primary target of violence.

The mobile app communicates via Bluetooth (LE) with the vending machine and also with a certificate server in the background. This server ensures that no manipulation can be carried out, as the device, smartphone app and the payment process are each secured with a signature process. The self-service device therefore does not need any direct communication with any entity, not even during the payment process. The goods are only issued when the payment process has been successfully completed on the mobile phone (e.g. via SEPA Instant Payment). Fraud is impossible!

The payment method the user can choose from can be specified when setting up the app. Of course, the operator of the machine can influence this.

A mobile app offers many starting points for customer loyalty programs, so that, for example, regular customers can be offered additional incentives.

The advantages for the vending machine

  • no cash module, no cash disposal costs
  • no card terminal
  • no control panel, contactless process (apart from goods removal)
  • no internet connection
  • Possibility for customer loyalty programs (e.g. regular customer discount)
  • flexible payment option for the customer

In future, vending machines will be cheaper to buy, easier to set up, safer to operate and more convenient for customers!

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