CHICAGO — Using coins as a payment method to operate a self-service laundry’s washer or dryer has long been the tradition. But driven by advances in technology and changing consumer sentiment, it’s becoming more commonplace for laundromat customers to have the option to instead use their debit or credit card, a store card, or a smartphone app to pay for a wash cycle.
Coin remains the dominant payment type among self-service laundries based on industry data, but for how long?
In American Coin-Op’s 2022-23 State of the Industry survey released earlier this year, 75.4% of store owners who responded said they accept payment by coin, 49.2% accept payment by card, and 26.2% accept other non-coin systems, including mobile pay (store owners were asked to identify every type that applies to their operations).
Roughly 46% of respondents reported offering customers more than one type of payment acceptance, and payment by card or mobile app continues to gain in popularity.
For this story, American Coin-Op interviewed representatives from nine companies that offer payment systems and related products. Let’s hear what they have to say about today’s payment trends and where they see things going as technology and customer preference evolve.
WHY IS CARD AND/OR MOBILE PAYMENT ACCEPTANCE GAINING ON COIN?
First up is why they believe card and/or mobile payment acceptance is gaining on coin payment.
“We are keenly aware of and excited by the shift towards card and mobile app payments,” says Steve Marcionetti, president of Card Concepts Inc. (CCI), which offers various products that include payment acceptance by credit/debit card, loyalty card, and mobile. “This trend aligns with broader shifts in consumer behavior, as people increasingly prefer digital payments for their convenience, security and efficiency.”
“The trend toward coinless card systems and mobile app payments will continue to grow as the technology advances,” suggests Wayne Lewis, CEO of ESD Inc., whose product range spans mechanical products for coin acceptance to smart card, magnetic stripe and store-branded loyalty card systems. “Store owners are looking to diversify and provide alternative payment options to their customer base, either through the conversion from or addition to coins. Most do not want to dictate to their customers but rather offer options that possibly their competition does not.”
“Laundromat owner/operators are smart business professionals and will provide the payment choices that work best for their customers,” says Stacey Cooper, general manager – Retail, for KioSoft, whose varied product line supports mobile, laundry/loyalty card, and credit/debit card payment acceptance. “Understandably, they will be very deliberate when making decisions about the new types of payment technology that they offer.”
“Certainly, credit/debit card use and mobile wallet type of payments are displacing cash in general, but especially coins,” observes Oleg Stepanov, representing payment systems provider Mitech Integrated Systems Inc. (Laundroworks).
“Limiting payment options only limits your potential customer pool,” says Jim Garrity, CEO of The Laundry Boss, which offers a cloud-based integrated payment, control and POS system. “Our focus is on positioning our platform to accept whatever payment methods become the standard in the marketplace.”
“Today, the (washing) machines are not cheap. They’re starting at $4-5 and going to $10-11, depending on how big the machine is,” says Jacob Lefkovits of LaundryPass, which produces a card-based payment system. “Can you imagine needing to throw in $11 in quarters?”
“As society continues to evolve towards digital transactions, we’re seeing a trend away from coin/cash in favor of mobile app payments in self-service laundries,” says Michael Kitchen, chief revenue officer of PayRange, which markets a mobile payment system designed for vended laundries. “This shift reflects the broader societal movement toward digital and mobile payments. While cash will likely remain a payment option for the foreseeable future, we expect that digital payment methods will increasingly grow in popularity.”
“As consumers carry less cash, forward-thinking operators need to meet the needs of the market,” says John DiStefano, vice president of sales for Paystri, which specializes in payment processing and integrated payment solutions. “Many of the manufacturers are developing proprietary payment technologies and providing them with their equipment. The ability to provide easy ways to pay with cards and phones have in turn allowed owners to not only give the customer options and different ways to pay, they have also been able to increase vend prices as needed, creating higher revenues.”
“Cash is still very important for vended laundries but we see the number of cash transactions decreasing and the number of credit/debit transactions increasing year over year,” comments John Kelly, vice president of sales for Setomatic Systems, which offers a system that accepts all forms of payment.
Check back Tuesday for Part 2!
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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].