Vending Machines May Soon Be NFC, Mobile Compatible

The ability to make mobile payments may soon conveniently expand to your nearest vending machine.

That’s the plan at least for the people at Cantaloupe Systems, a start-up that provides tech services for vending machine operators.

According to a report this week from All Things Digital, Cantaloupe Systems “has been working to deploy near field communication-enabled payment terminals at vending machines in San Francisco, Chicago and the mid-Atlantic region.”

As a result, vending machines regulars will no longer have to find change or flatten their dollars bills to swiftly retrieve goodies from the office vending machine.

Consumers will soon be able to pay for their snacks with a smartphone, as well as send real-time complaints about their Snickers stuck in a spiral.

Cantaloupe co-founder Anant Agrawal tells ATD that “Google Wallet-equipped vending machines will feature prominent stickers so consumers know which machines work with the app, and that eventually operators and even Google could send coupons and rewards to users as they purchase snacks.”

Although mobile payments at vending machines would be a largely new phenomenon in the U.S., they’re nothing new in parts of Asia, where the conveniences afforded by modern mobile technologies have long been linked with the conveniences of fast food via vending machines.

“It takes a long time to get the infrastructure out there,” says Mark Stein, whose company, Mark Vend, owns and operates 2,000 vending machines. “But as more and more people do mobile banking, I think they’ll want to do more purchasing with their mobile phones.”