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Impulse Buying Gets Easier

By Hanna Aronovich in Food on Aug 23, 2006 3:10PM

Cash is so passé. Seriously, who needs to dig around for a couple rumpled singles and some loose nickels, when credit cards are so sleek, so fast, so shiny! Enter: cashless vending. cokecanvending.jpg

The Tribune reported MasterCard, Coca-Cola Bottling and USA Technologies have teamed up to bring 1,000 cashless vending machines to the Philadelphia area. Through the MasterCard PayPass technology, purchases under $25 can be made, with no signature is required.

Critics have attacked cashless vending, claiming it encourages consumers to drink more pop and spend more money. Well, um, no shit, genius. USA Technologies said, “MasterCard and Coke have recognized that the vending industry is an extraordinary cashless opportunity. Our own surveys show that the average vending purchase is approximately 50 percent higher when consumers can use their credit cards. Based on our surveys, cashless vending leads to increased sales, and MasterCard and other card companies are working with us to capture the opportunity.”

But, Chicagoans needn’t worry just yet about falling victim to the even-greater convenience of snack food. In 2002, PepsiAmericas announced plans to install up to 80 cashless vending machines at Navy Pier and Woodfield Mall. However, there are only 15 of these machines today.

PepsiAmericas spokesperson Mary Viola told the Tribune cashless payments account for less than 10 percent of sales. "They are fairly expensive business propositions because of the hardware and the related service fees," she said. "Volume would have to be higher to make sense to roll them out in other markets."

Others predict cashless vending is inevitable, and it’s just a matter of time before the technology is widespread. "To me, that's scary," Dave Grotto, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association, told the Tribune. "The best thing in life is not having spare change to add more calories to your life. Do I stop at the Snickers bar now that I can have a meal?"

The answer, of course, is “yes.” Have that chocolate bar (but stop at one), and bring on the cashless vending! (PS: We like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so please stock lots of those, thanks!).