The potential to outfit 1.5 million vending machines with payment card readers has enticed Apriva, a wireless payment-services company, to start Apriva Vend, a cashless-payment service, the company announced today.

Apriva will work with MEI, a West Chester, Pa.-based vending-services company, to sell Apriva Vend to vending-machine operators.

“It was a logical extension for us to move into this vertical,” Robin Houston, Apriva director of marketing and product management, tells PaymentsSource.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Apriva sells wireless payment-acceptance services. Of the approximately 5 million vending machines deployed in the United States, about 1.5 million have the foot traffic and volume to justify adding payment card readers, Apriva estimates. Of that 1.5 million, only about 75,000 accept payment cards, Houston says.

Ideal vending machines would be those deployed in high foot-traffic areas, such as airports and theme parks, that vending operators may be able to charge enough to warrant the cost of card acceptance, she says. MEI’s sales force will sell Apriva Vend.

The MEI-supplied card readers, which accept credit, debit and contactless cards, connect to payment processors via Apriva’s wireless connectivity. The MEI reader also accepts coupons generated by the reader and cash, MEI says.

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