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Mastercard Plans To ‘Mobile-ize’ Vending Machines In 300 Cities

Consumers expect all retail touchpoints to be as mobile-friendly as possible and all commerce experiences to be frictionless, says Mastercard Digital Payments Head Betty DeVita.

Mastercard is retrofitting vending machines in 300 cities with a Bluetooth receiver that will allow cashless (and coinless) consumers to use an app on their mobile phones to buy beverages and snacks.

To bring about the change (apologies for the pun), Mastercard has teamed up with PayRange, a company that provides vending machine owners with a device that takes credit cards and mobile pay.

“Mastercard is not asking merchants to make replace their machines with new ones, but are instead bringing old machines into the digital payments space in a simple, convenient and financially responsible way,” a Mastercard rep told GeoMarketing. “They have manufactured a Bluetooth dongle that can be plugged into any vending machine to enable mobile payments.”

The focus on vending machines represents Mastercard’s continuing push to promote Masterpass, its digital payment platform.

Mastercard and PayRange are retrofitting vending machines in 300 North American cities. But will there be a wider impact on retailers’ adoption of mobile payments?

Mobile Pay In Range

After years of retail resistance to mobile pay, last summer, Masterpass went live for in-store contactless payments in more than five million brick-and-mortar locations across 77 countries.

Mobile payment would seem to have natural appeal to merchants since consumers are hardly ever without their smartphone — plus, Internet of Things devices like wireless headphones and smartwatches continue to proliferate. And while signs suggest mobile pay is gaining traction, an overwhelming number of stores and restaurants still do not accept contactless pay.

But the variety of mobile payment systems and platforms has made it difficult for brick-and-mortar businesses to select a provider. After all, if no single system has a sizable share of the market, having one that only serves a fraction means risking the annoyance of substantial percentages of customers who don’t have the shop’s specific method to complete a transaction.

While the deal could help Mastercard’s Masterpass be recognized as the dominant digital payment method, PayRange is surely the most immediate winner.

To buy an item with Masterpass from a vending machine in the program, which officially kicks off May 1, consumers will first have to download the PayRange app on their smartphone.

“PayRange thrives on reinventing the consumer experience in the world of automated retail by bringing legacy machines into the digital age,” said Paresh Patel, founder and CEO, PayRange. “The partnership with Mastercard grants millions of consumers access to the rewarding cashless experience across the PayRange network of machines. Gone are the days of digging for loose change or coin jams. With a swipe up on their phone, we’re making everyday payments simple—for everyone.”

Convenience And Personalization: The Mobile Key

Under the terms of the partnership, PayRange, which is available on both Apple iOS and Google Android, gets access to over 80 million Masterpass digital wallet customers — and Mastercard gets to drive digital payment adoption in a space where transactions are primarily in cash.

“Convenience is as important to consumers as personalization and customization,” said Betty DeVita, chief commercial officer, Digital Payments and Labs, Mastercard. “Paying with a mobile phone seems like such an obvious answer to a pain point that have existed for decades. Whether it’s a physical card or a tap of a phone, as mobile usage becomes a way of life, consumers will expect all retail touchpoints to be as mobile-friendly as possible and all commerce experiences to be frictionless.”

Aside from being the tool to process a vending machine transaction, Masterpass users are also able to store all payment information, including card details, shipping information, and payment preferences in one location.

Bluetooth, No Beacons

As for the rollout, Mastercard is “targeting those everyday users, hence we hope to see the app more in use at institutional complexes such as offices, schools,” a Mastercard rep said.

Airports and transportation hubs filled with rushing travelers relying on mobile plane or train tickets could certainly represent a sizable target audience of consumers for the mobile pay vending machines.

Although there are no plans to add Bluetooth-powered beacons to the vending machines, there is a possibility of adding other app developers who want to align themselves with Mastercard and PayRange.

Mastercard has its own Vending API  that any distributor can use to make machines discoverable — without the use of beacons to prompt a consumer to grab a soda or a snack.