Cost Saving Technology
Autovending January 2012
Reading, January 2012
MEI has been directing a great amount of its R&D resource into creating payment systems that increase the operator’s profitability in two key aspects. Firstly, MEI aims to reduce costs through integration, for instance, if an operator wants to offer the choice of cash and cashless payment to consumers, the cost of hardware investment is important. MEI offers an integrated solution: a Coin Manager with integrated MIFARE reader, which allows operators to lower the cost of investment.
Secondly the company aims to drive efficiency within its product range. A modern changer can hold up to £100 in change, which is a huge amount of ‘dead’ cash across the machine field base. MEI products automatically monitor the tube content through an Autofloat system, adjusting to the requirements of each site and often reducing the amount of cash tied up in the tubes by £40 per machine, thus allowing for investment in other areas.
“We are dedicated to increasing the profitability of our customers, which includes continuing to deliver the best value for money products with the highest reliability in the industry,” said Richard Gibson, marketing director of MEI.
“As the needs of our customer and their consumers change, we will continue to enhance our products and solutions. Vending is all about convenience and this includes enabling the consumer to make a purchase with whatever they have in their purse: cash or cashless. MEI’s challenge is to make this affordable to operators.”
When it comes to installing public cashless systems (debit/credit cards and mobile payments) operators would also require a telemetry device in order to provide a clearance route for cashless transactions. In its traditional sense, telemetry is already an important part of modern vending technology – performing the task of audit data collection and real time inventory monitoring. And although it is clear that fitting telemetry to some machines can deliver a good ROI, it is not true for all machines in every location, so operators need to test where it might work best.
“Whether telemetry belongs as part of the payment system, I am not sure,” said Richard. “There are plenty of low cost modern devices available on the market and the technology changes rapidly, but if our customers require a telemetry solution embedded in our payment devices we will offer it.”
It is also important to differentiate between closed site cashless solutions and public cashless. Closed site cashless is prevalent across Europe but less so in the UK and we think that might change as operators start to see the benefits: cash in advance of the purchase, reduced cash handling costs, opportunities to run bonus schemes or offer discounts and, of course, more flexible pricing with price increases as small as 1p.
Public cashless is receiving a lot of coverage at the moment and sees a lot of activity with a wider range of player than ever before: from issuing banks to mobile phone manufacturers.
MEI has around 150,000 public cashless devices currently working in vending machines around the world and the potential is clear.
“There are a lot of new technologies in development that are targeted at micro payments; contactless, chip, mobile phone and SMS payments,” Richard continued. “Whilst there is a lot of activity in this area it seems that the scheme providers have some work to do before there is a stable proposition and a critical mass of consumer acceptance is achieved. There has to be a return on investment for operators and there is little incentive for an operator to accept the new contactless cards if only a small percentage of consumers have these sort of cards and are using them.”
Vending is all about convenience, as an industry we have to adapt and allow the customer to pay with whatever they have in their wallet. While the choice of payment options is growing, there is no indication cash will go away, with eight per cent of households in the UK still not having access to a bank account.
MEI’s CF8000 was created based on customer feedback and the feeling that there was a need for a simpler means of accessing audit data and more cost effective ways to give customers a choice of cash and cashless payment systems.
The CF8000 is therefore equipped with a range of new feature that maximise operator’s efficiency and reduce the investment costs.
It comes equipped with Data Merge technology that allows for easy, hassle and error free audit data collection in one simple download from the coin manager via USB, IrDA or Bluetooth. Also a built in Real Time Clock allows operators to automatically track the time and date of audit collection and any cash discrepancies.
Lastly, the CF8000 comes with an optional integrated cashless MIFARE reader reducing the cost of hardware for cash and cashless combo.