Solving Self-Service Retail’s Cash Problem

By Pete Rizzo (@pete_rizzo_)

M&Ms, Fanta soft drinks, Mrs. Fields cookies. If you can think of a popular product, someone has put it in a vending machine. However, if you think of the payment methods vending machines accept, only two are top of mind – cash and coins.

As consumer payment methods have diversified, vending providers have fallen behind on accepting payment methods that can help consumers translate these impulses into action.

At least, that’s the state of the current market according to Maeve McKenna Duska, vice president of marketing for USA Technologies. McKenna Duska argues that with cash use on the decline, vending operators are losing out on the additional revenue debit, credit and mobile payments offer.

“These particular segments still refer to themselves as coin-operated, which obviously is very antiquated at this point,” McKenna Duska said in an interview with “Consumers have already moved on to electronic payments. Everyone’s using credit and debit, and now mobile payments are becoming more prolific. No one carries cash anymore.”

While supporting anecdotes no doubt abound, McKenna Duska cited research to bolster her claim and further stress how much merchants have to gain through payment diversification. Harris Interactive has found that roughly three in four Americans use vending machines once a month, according to McKenna Duska.

But, McKenna Duska says USA Technologies has the answer to help these self-service operators – a turnkey solution that goes beyond merely facilitating payments to become a one-stop shop that can assist with brand differentiation and loyalty.

To find out more about how USA Technologies is leading the still burgeoning cashless vending market, spoke with McKenna Duska in an extensive interview that covered the ways cashless platforms benefit businesses, the company’s recently announced loyalty and prepaid program and its association with the Isis mobile wallet. What are some ways in which a cashless platform benefits businesses? Is this just about convenience, or are there other bonuses here as well?

Maeve McKenna Duska:
So, obviously convenience is one bonus, but the result of that convenience is driving incremental revenue growth for our customers. Again, people just don’t carry cash anymore. As an example, when I travel, [I only] make sure I have [cash] for taxis – which are also going to cashless payments at this point.

Even when I have cash it’s in the form of $20 bills because that’s what the atm provides to me. Many of these machines can’t even take a $20, so consumers are walking past our customers’ machines without any ability to make a purchase whatsoever.

The most recent report that we put out actually showed that there was an incremental revenue increase of 28 percent and also an incremental volume increase of 23 percent [when vending operators added a cashless platform.] Interestingly enough, our solution was not just driving incremental revenue by way of cashless sales, but we were also driving incremental revenue. USA Technologies recently announced details about MORE, an ePort Connect loyalty and prepaid program. Tell us about this program and the driver behind it.

USA Technologies’ strategy is really based on two principles. We want to drive connections to our service by influencing the rate of adoption in the market, but we also look to enhance the value of the service to our customers.

We describe it being similar to a cable, we look to grow the connections and then add more choices for consumers. You have the basic service that you can add to. This allows them to increase sales and revenue, differentiate their business and compete more effectively in the marketplace.

It’s been a really anonymous consumer for our customers for a long time, so they have no idea who’s coming to their machines, no idea what their purchasing habits are and they have no way to reach out to these customers at all to incentivize them to come to these machines to make a purchase.

Now, with MORE, we enable them to gather that information and reach out [to these customers]. I think something that’s of particular interest to our listeners as well is your involvement with ISIS, which is a mobile wallet platform we cover all the time. Tell us how USA Technologies is working with Isis?

In addition to the prepaid and loyalty program we’re offering, all of our vending customers with NFC technologies will now be able to participate in what is now a nationwide loyalty program being offered by USA Technologies in partnership with Isis. It’s a buy-four-get-one-free incentive.

Again, it’s about being able to incentive customers and increase sales and participation with consumers with whatever payment method they choose. You will have a certain percentage of consumers that are going to migrate over to mobile payments. This provides an opportunity to give them an exciting and acceptable way to use their Isis wallet in an everyday purchase.

To hear more about how USA Technologies sees cashless payments transitioning in this market segment, listen to our full podcast below.


*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.

Maeve McKenna Duska is responsible for USA Technologies’ marketing planning, strategy and execution.

She re-joined USA Technologies in March 2004 where she was responsible for developing and implementing marketing collateral and campaigns for the company’s flagship ePort-branded cashless payment and telemetry service. During her recent tenure at USA Technologies, her responsibilities expanded to include marketing planning, strategy and execution for all the company’s products and services, as well as market research, sales support, budgets and strategic partnership development. Ms. Duska was named to her current position in 2009. Ms. Duska also served as Marketing Manager in the Higher Education division at Aramark, responsible for developing, supporting and executing the marketing and communications strategy for high-visibility accounts including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware and St. Joseph’s University. Prior to Aramark, she served as Marketing Communications Manager for USA Technologies through its acquisition of Stitch Networks, a cashless payments and M2M telemetry services provider. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Rosemont College.


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