Has Isis Found Success With NFC Vending Machines?

Coca-Cola is shifting its vending machine fleet towards a cashless future, and it’s enlisting the likes of Isis to aid it in its mission.

We’ve known of the Coke and Isis collaboration for a while, as the soft drink company served as one of Isis’ major partners when it launched in Austin, TX and Salt Lake City, UT back in October 2012. Six months into the partnership, is Isis helping drive more people to buy Coke drinks?

Representatives from both companies refused to offer exact figures on Isis vending machine use, but according to a recent NFC Times piece, they did offer up plenty of other nuggets that help us draw conclusions of our own.

Rick Kanemasu, a consultant who heads Coke’s vending technology strategy, said that 34 percent of Isis users in Austin added the My Coke Rewards loyalty Card to their Isis wallets. Two hundred vending machines in Austin are equipped to accept conventional payments cards and contactless payments, and are located in places such as malls, college campuses and retail stores.

To attract newcomers, both Coke and Isis are using rewards and promotions. When a My Coke Rewards user signs up with Isis, he gets enough points for a free 20-ounce drink. Isis, meanwhile, has shaved off 10 points from the usual 40 that are required to earn free drinks.

Jim Stapleton, CSO for Isis, added that incentives such as this are what really makes Isis attractive to partners – a sentiment we’ve heard echoed by the company many times before.

“Payments is good, but what it’s really about is the ability to reach their consumers before they even get to that point-of-sale interaction,” he said.

Kanemasu noted that the mobile method is much more effective than the current My Coke Rewards platform, which forces users to enter codes online and then chose their rewards.

According to NFC Times, the Isis partnership – and the Google Wallet partnership before that – is just part of Coke’s strategy to shift towards accepting more mobile payments. The piece cites Kanemasu’s belief that credit card payments could make up 30 percent of vending machine payments by 2017, up from 20 percent at present. That number should fall back down to 25 percent by 2020 though, as many more users will opt for mobile payments.

Currently, only 15 percent of Coke’s machines accept cards, but that’s up from 5 percent just 15 months ago. Only half of those accept contactless payments, but by 2012, Kanemasu expects cash payments to comprise only 50 to 60 percent of all vending machine purchases.

That means that Kanemasu forecasts a drop in both credit and cash payments, making it pretty clear how important he views mobile as Coke moves forward.

To read more quotes from Kanemasu and Stapleton, read the full NFC Times piece here.

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