Getting Comfortable with Cashless (Part 1)

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(Photo: ©iStockphoto/PhotonStock)

Bruce Beggs |

Consumers increasingly use credit/debit cards, contactless and mobile payments rather than cash

CHICAGO — Consumers are growing increasingly more comfortable with making cashless payments using credit or debit cards or even their smartphones.

In the United Kingdom, cashless payments have overtaken the use of currency for the first time there, according to the Payments Council; the use of cash by U.K. consumers, businesses and financial institutions fell to 48% of payments in 2014. The industry body says that consumers are moving toward debit card, contactless and mobile payments and away from cash.

Closer to home, 80% of U.S. consumers use debit cards to pay for everyday purchases such as gas, meals and groceries, according to American Credit Consumer Counseling.

The prevalence of smartphones and their computer-like capabilities have led to the creation of mobile wallets, which are digital versions of traditional wallets that someone would carry in their pocket, according to Chase Paymentech, a mobile wallet offered by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Variations exist, but usually they can hold digital information about credit and debit cards for making payments; store coupons and loyalty programs; and more. Consumers just activate an app, tap an NFC-enabled (Near Field Communication) payment system with their phone and enter their PIN to complete the transaction.

ApplePay and Android Pay are two well-known mobile-wallet examples. Now, there are reports that major retailers like Walmart and Target may be developing their own.

This increasing acceptance of cashless payment, especially when paying for small-ticket purchases and personal services, is having an impact on the self-service laundry industry.

While industry surveys continue to show the vast majority of U.S. self-service laundries are still coin-based, there’s no denying that the share of cashless stores—“coinless” may be a more appropriate term—is growing larger by the year.

In the most recent State of the Industry Survey, published by American Coin-Op in April 2015, the shares of card-only stores and stores that offer both payment types (“hybrid” stores) had increased since the previous year’s survey.

Approximately 66% of respondents to the unscientific survey said they operated coin-only stores, 7.9% operated card-only stores, and 26.3% operated both in 2014. The prior year, the percentage of hybrid stores was only 12.7%.

TECHNOLOGY AND FLEXIBILITY

There are a number of companies that market cashless payment systems to self-service laundries.

Since summer 2013, Setomatic Systems and USA Technologies Inc. have teamed to accelerate cashless payment adoption in the nearly $5 billion market.

Their agreement joined two solutions—Setomatic’s SpyderWash® technology and USAT’s comprehensive ePort Connect® service platform—to bring cashless payment value to laundry operations as consumers increasingly opt to use their credit/debit card or mobile phone to pay for such services.

SpyderWash is an advanced, wireless payment system that accommodates credit, debit, loyalty cards and NFC-enabled mobile payment, as well as coin.

At the 2015 Clean Show, ESD introduced its Synergy Wireless Card System, which utilizes wireless communication to locally connect card-slide readers mounted on washers and dryers to an on-site server/computer.

Customers load value onto their magnetic stripe loyalty cards using a Value Transfer Machine (VTM) at the laundry. They can load value using cash, debit/credit cards, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, smartphone “tap-and-pay,” and EMV.

The FasCard system from Card Concepts Inc. works with existing coin laundry machines and allows store owners to accept credit, debit or loyalty cards in addition to coins on their washers and dryers.

The Laundry Pass is still another cashless payment offering, designed to enable customers to load value on a card that they would then tap on a system-equipped machine to start a cycle.

A quick Internet search can produce results that include these companies and others trying to capitalize on consumer embrace of cashless payment systems.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion!

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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