Digital payments now exceed cash for purchases at US vending machines

Woman making digital payment at vending machine
CASHLESS: Digital purchases at vending machines using Canteloupe’s payment platform now outstrip cash

The average number of digital payments made for purchases from vending machines in the US grew steadily during 2019, finally exceeded those made with cash in April 2020 and continued to increase over the course of 2020, a new study shows.

By April 2020, the average number of digital payments at each machine reached 137 while cash transactions fell to an average of 135, with digital sales volumes reaching an average of US$235 compared with US$160 for cash in the same month.

It also found that  the number of vending machine payments made using cash had decreased from 52% in November 2019 to 40% a year later.

The study defines digital payments as those made with mag stripe debit and credit cards, contactless credit cards and mobile devices, and notes that increases in digital transactions on low-volume vending machines and on machines in military or hospital locations were “led by growth in contactless” payments.

“Low volume machines, or those with less than $2,000 in sales per year, showed increases in digital payments also, led by growth in contactless,” the study says.

“While 46% of sales in 2019 were made with mag stripe credit cards and 15% were made using contactless cards, in 2020, 57% were mag stripe credit cards and 25% were contactless cards.

“Meanwhile, cash sales fell year over year as a percentage of sales, representing 48% of sales in November of 2019 and only 36% in November of 2020.”

“Contactless payments took up a growing percentage of these increases, particularly in military and hospital settings,” the study adds.

“The percentage of contactless sales within military locations was roughly 11% in November 2019 but jumped to more than 32% in November of 2020. Hospitals increased from 15%% in November 2019 to 27% in November of last year.”

The study was conducted jointly by digital payments technology provider Cantaloupe in partnership with Michigan State University and is based on sales and transaction data from approximately 122,000 vending machines linked to Cantaloupe’s digital payments platform across the US.

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