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Vending Industry to Use Loyalty Programs to Build Customer Engagement

Traditional cash-based industries, such as the vending industry, might be headed toward a cashless system punctuated by loyalty programs driving customer engagement. USA Technologies (USAT) hopes that is the case. Last week USAT launched what it claims is the largest mobile payment and loyalty program for the U.S. vending industry.

The USAT mobile payment and loyalty program will integrate USAT's installed base of more than 100,000 NFC-enabled cashless payment terminals with Isis' SmartTap™ mobile commerce technology for rewards acceptance and redemption. The Isis Mobile Wallet™ enables mobile payments through an NFC-ready terminal and allows consumers to redeem offers and loyalty rewards with the tap of their smartphone.

According to the "Fifth Vend Free" promotion announced by USAT and Isis, customers would be eligible to receive free products from vending operators based upon loyalty rewards earned by using the Isis Mobile Wallet™ to pay for a purchase at a qualifying terminal.

Veronica Rosa, VP Corporate Communications and Investor Relations for USAT, told Loyalty 360 that the vending market is in the midst of transitioning to cashless payment.

“New loyalty programs speak to the way cashless payment can really transform these traditionally cash-based industries which have never really had access to consumer marketing before,” Rosa said. “We ran a successful mobile wallet pilot with Isis in its pilot cities of Austin and Salt Lake City and this promotion will be part of us adding their SmartTab technology to our NFC-enabled devices that connect to our ePort Connect service network. I think Isis sees the vending space as a huge opportunity to build loyalty to their Mobile Wallet.”

Rosa said the “Fifth Vend Free” promotion is unique to vending because “no one else has done this on such a large scale.”

USAT has more cashless connections in the vending space than anyone, Rosa said. Industry data shows that there are millions of vending and other self-service terminals existing today that are still taking just cash and coins.

Jim Stapleton, Chief Sales Officer, Isis, said in a press release that loyalty programs that allow consumers to be rewarded for repeat purchases are essentially “uncharted territory for the vending industry. Connecting these businesses with their consumer creates a whole new marketing paradigm for the industry.”

PGI Services, a Salt Lake City vending, coffee, and micro market service provider, has been preparing for mobile-based consumer engagement tools to drive traffic to its machines.

"We took advantage of USAT's mobile payment launch with Isis in our city because we know the demographics of our consumers, particularly in areas such as the Salt Lake City airport and business centers, are increasingly smart-phone oriented," Mike Brown, president of PGI Services, said in a release. “We are now over 80% cashless and can't wait to incorporate the consumer engagement programs enabled by mobile payment to leverage our cashless platform even further.”

Rosa thinks this type of loyalty program can lead to increased adoption and have a significant impact on the U.S. vending industry.

“The decision to adopt cashless will go from being a machine to machine decision to a much more strategic investment – a marketing tool that not only enhances traffic to the machine, but diagnostics, consumer intelligence, co-branding opportunities, and advertising relationships with major brands,” Rosa said. “The opportunities could be endless for savvy operators.”

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