Vending machine fintech extends contactless payment range for social-distance snacking

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Vending machines for years have been gradually shifting to contactless payments, but coronavirus has sparked changes in the machines’ core technology to enable hygienic use with social distancing.

PayRange, a Portland, Ore.-based fintech specializing in vending and parking mobile payment solutions, has partnered with several vending machine manufacturers to extend the range of remote payment apps to several feet to eliminate any need to touch the machines.

The solution adds new capabilities to the 25-year-old MDB communication standard that powers electronic payments within vending machines, PayRange said in a recent press release.

Six vending machine manufacturers will include PayRange’s improved contactless payment technology enabling social distancing for mobile payments in upcoming firmware updates for use cases including car washes and videogames, in addition to food- and merchandise-dispending machines and laundromats, the release said.

The improved technology also simplifies the process of adding mobile payments to any vending machine manufactured within the last 30 years that uses the MDB protocol, said Prashant Kanhere, PayRange’s chief technology officer, in the release.

“With growing consumer reluctance in touching machines, we recognized that NFC and card payment capability didn’t address the need for a truly touch-free experience,” Kanhere said.

Users must download the PayRange app to pay contactlessly and remotely, but PayRange said 90% of consumers who use machines with its technology are regular users, so the effort is rarely for one-time use.

PayRange has attracted more than $30 million in venture capital since its 2013 launch.

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