Stickups are on the rise but it's not guns being pointed - its mobile phones. And you're not being robbed - far from it. You're shopping in the cashless future that is now catching on with a convergence of technologies promising to digitise money and change the way we buy.
The age of cashless transactions is here - not the end of money as much as the end of physical currency as we know it and the beginning of a networked economy of retail diversity, convenience and micropayments. Across America everything from ticket sales, laundromats, public phones, vending machines and automated kiosks are integrating USA Technologies' wireless, cashless networking services in a full scale roll out of the new digital economy. With the click of a bluetooth enabled mobile phone consumers can now shop without physical cash - leave your wallet at home.
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Cashless transactions are opening up new distribution channels for many industries, including entertainment, digital imaging, manufacturing, commercial laundry and office supplies.
And with the advent of Intelligent Vending Machines (IVMs) an automated shopping experience is becoming tangible.
Initial tests have proven popular with consumers and the new Generation 5 e-Port cashless transaction device is now being used by Coca-Cola bottlers in automated IVMs across the world.
And a recent deal with telecommunications giant AT&T Wireless will soon see their telephony networks carrying transactions, which is expected to rapidly accelerate acceptance of a 'cashless society'. The AT&T Wireless-powered USA The AT&T Wireless GSM/GPRS network is available in more than 7,500 cities and towns, and along more than 30,000 of interstate highways across the U.S.
The Generation 5 e-Port can be installed into a vending machine in five minutes or less, enabling wireless connectivity to accept credit/debit card transactions as well as normal coin or bill operations. They utilise a transaction and processing data network called USALive to enable USA Technologies' customers have real-time, web-based access to sales (cash and credit), inventory and maintenance data from their vending machines, increasing profitability and functionality.
Moreover, the boosted IVMs and unmanned kiosks can be stocked with diverse materials, allowing more targeted use of retail space in malls and public spaces, maximised space-to-sales, minimized stops per asset, and limited machine down time. Expect to see a blossoming of automated, Intelligent Vending Machines popping up in more public spaces and to replace human operators for small scale transactions.
And with no physical cash IVM's are less vulnerable to theft. Combined with fingerprint recognition coming in on some mobile phones and your financial security is protected.
So start saving your coins and notes now, as this may well herald the beginning of the end for cold hard cash and the start of a growing digital economy.
Just don't lose your phone!