Apple Pay, and other mobile payment services like it, all share a similar vision of the future, one where people can leave their home with nothing but a smartphone and an ID (if that!), and still buy absolutely whatever they want. That dream’s a little closer to reality now that USA Technologies brings NFC payments to some 200,000 vending machines, parking meters, and laundry equipment, some of the last bastions of cash.
Not familiar with USA Technologies? They’re the hardware giant behind lots of those self-serve machines that make our lives so convenient, ones that traditionally gobble up physical currency—or more and more commonly, also take plastic. The company’s NFC-based declaration is a step in the right direction for those who want total freedom from paper, coins, and plastic; it will add Apple Pay support to 200,000 vending machines, kiosks, parking meters, laundry machines, and whathaveyou. This effort is bolstered by other businesses who are also creating mobile readers to help bring Apple Pay to restaurants, letting mobile payments by Apple, Google, and other companies like Softcard, really transform the way we pay.
This also isn’t the first instance of tap-to-pay vending machines. USA Technologies says they’ve been working on integrating cashless payments with NFC for near a decade. But according to Businessweek, in 2013 5 million vending machines in the U.S. still only used cash, requiring physical money for snack-sized Funions. So the real question will be if vending machines, which have been somewhat sluggish to introduce credit cards as a payment option, could just leap from that tech entirely onto mobile payments. Here’s to hoping. [TechCrunch]