The Expanding Horizons of Unattended Payments
Alison Arthur ● October 3, 2020 ● 3 min read
Unattended payments have long been a part of consumers’ lives, from purchasing snacks at vending machines to self-checkout at grocery stores, pharmacies, and retailers. In addition to facilitating on-demand transactions, unattended payments offer the added benefit of contact-free checkout experiences. This is increasingly important as businesses commit to maintaining healthy social distance between customers in the COVID-19 era.
Use Cases for Unattended Payments
Use cases for unattended payments are expanding in verticals where they’ve existed for years, as well as creating opportunity in previously untapped markets. Here’s a closer look at five verticals where unattended payments are evolving and/or making new inroads.
Coin-op is synonymous with laundromats, even though card payments are becoming more prevalent at laundry facilities nationwide. Shifting to card-based unattended payments gives laundromat owners the ability to reduce time on-site, ease cash management responsibilities, and avoid unexpected headaches like coin shortages. Unattended payment solutions can move laundromats entirely to card-based payments or combine card payments with cash, coins, and digital wallets to provide customers the most choice and flexibility.
2. Pet Services
Washing and drying pets at home can be a messy endeavor. Self-service grooming operations are gaining popularity as an alternative that provides the physical facilities and tools needed to complete the process at an off-site location. Unattended payments are integral to keeping this experience fully automated so pet owners can get in and out quickly.
3. Parking Garages
Parking garages have long used unattended payments to facilitate easy entrances and exits at their facilities by swiping or dipping payment cards. Contactless cards and digital wallets streamline this process even further, but the next generation of unattended parking payments is poised to use more advanced technology. License plate recognition (like that used at toll booths) can be leveraged to pay for parking, as well as radio-frequency identification (RFID) built directly into vehicles.
4. Charitable Donations
Charitable organizations often rely on in-person volunteers or partnerships with other institutions to facilitate fundraising. Unattended payments provide a new alternative for encouraging charitable contributions. Self-service payment stations can be set up in strategic locations to encourage on-the-spot donations. For example, unattended payment stations can be installed in hospitals to collect contributions for health-related causes. Payments can be made via digital wallets and contactless cards to keep transactions contact-free.
5. Micro Markets
Vending machines are a stalwart of unattended payments. While they’ve historically run on cash, more and more accept card payments and contactless transactions to reduce reliance on bills and coins. The next evolution of vending machines – micro markets – is gaining momentum as consumers seek more variety and fresh food on demand. Micro markets act as mini convenience stores, with wider inventory that appeals to health-conscious consumers. Payments at micro markets are entirely unattended where customers select, scan, and pay for items without the assistance of a cashier.
Are unattended payments right for your business?
The benefits of unattended payments are undeniable, but they also require unique considerations including advanced security features, ease of technical upgrades, and durability of physical card readers. It’s important to discuss your business’s specific requirements with your payment processor to determine if unattended payments are the right fit for your business. Click here to learn more.