Tom Truitt hasn’t been in the vending business a long time. But he knows one of the biggest changes taking place in vending machines found in cafeterias and break rooms is the introduction of cashless payment. And while the vending industry is adopting cashless payment and even mobile payment, Truitt has an even more futuristic vision for vending. He sees Internet cloud-based management of millions of vending machines that accept cryptocurrency.
Truitt’s company, Philadelphia-based Liberty Vending LLC, is developing a software system that manages bitcoin payments in vending machines. His software and machine interface can retrofit machines to accept bitcoin.
Truitt’s solution will join the march of interactive technology that is already changing the vending experience for many consumers. But his vision takes the vending experience ahead of the pack with bitcoin.
“I saw an opportunity,”
Most of today’s successful vending operators are retrofitting their machines with the capability to accept mobile payments. There are several mobile payment platforms, including cloud-based systems, that allow a consumer to pay for a vending purchase using a smartphone and also redeem coupons and loyalty rewards. There are several point-of-sale interaction formats to allow these payments, including touchscreens, QR codes and Dongle.
Where cryptocurrency changes the playing field in a big way over other cashless and mobile payment options is the ease and efficiency of payment. Whether a credit card, debit card, Paypal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, or social media, payment has to travel through a series of steps that each adds cost.
“Not only is the system scalable; the currency itself is scalable. What’s unique about bitcoin is it’s also a universal currency.”
Truitt’s solution uses a hardware interface from Utica, N.Y.-based Upstate Networks Inc. for unattended cryptocurrency payment. Nimbleus, a Springhouse, Pa.-based software engineering company, wrote the software that will manage the payments and trigger vends. A consumer will use their smartphone to scan a QR code on the machine to trigger a vend. The software then transfers the bitcoin payment from the consumer’s wallet to the machine’s.
“This is a powerful, scalable software stack that links QR codes to selections in machines so that sending payment to an address triggers the vend,”
Truitt said. The software will also include business management applications for vending operations. By the end of February, he expects to have a machine equipped with his software ready for installation at a host location.
Bitcoin acceptance is not new in vending machines. It’s the management software that’s unique, Truitt claimed. “It’s efficiently scalable.”
“It (digital currency) is the most efficient type of currency,” he said. “It is revolutionizing payment transactions across industries.”
“An operator could easily and efficiently remotely manage 20,000 machines all over the world using this touchless, automatic, cloud-based solution and retrofit it to existing machines,”
Truitt first considered operating a bitcoin ATM machine. In investigating this opportunity, he was discouraged by the requirement of having a money transmitter’s license. He also realized that established ATM operators were a few steps ahead of him with the bitcoin ATM idea. He then shifted his interest to snack and beverage machines. Bitcoin acceptance struck him as a natural offering for these refreshment merchandisers.
In retrospect, he thinks he was lucky to focus on an industry that has much potential to improve the customer buying experience.
“There are millions of vending machines in existence using (bitcoin) compatible technology. Widespread adoption will permanently change the face of cashless payments, cryptocurrency, and the vending industry.”
“Cashless, touchless systems can be used worldwide,” he added. “They can be remotely managed with a cloud-based system.”
In the meantime, he is speaking with investors about his project. Twenty years from now, he envisions everyone using cryptocurrency.
“I can see it as being as widespread as banking or credit cards today. There’s no reason 20 years from every machine won’t have hardware that has crypto currency.”