A study conducted by Cantaloupe and the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University revealed that contactless transactions at vending machines soared during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to cash payments. The data collected for the study analyzed a sample set of 160,000 Cantaloupe ePort cashless devices across various location segments.
The “Payments in Unattended Retail” study saw the overall share of cashless transactions increase dramatically from 51% in January 2020 to 62% in October 2021 compared to cash transactions, which decreased to from 49% to 38% in the same time period.
The rise in cashless payments overall is being driven by consumer adoption of contactless payments, or any payment method that uses either near-field communication (NFC) or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to “tap to pay” — such as a credit or debit card with a chip or a mobile wallet. The study found that from January 2020 to October 2021, contactless transactions had grown steadily month to month from 18% of total transactions to 43% of total cashless transactions overall.
“When we analyze our entire network of devices throughout the first half of 2022, we’re seeing contactless payment methods make up nearly half of all cashless transactions,” said Sean Feeney, CEO of Cantaloupe. “And these trends aren’t slowing down. The data indicates that by the end of 2022, more than two thirds of all transactions will be cashless, driven by consumers preferring to tap. For vending operators, this underlines the importance of offering contactless payment options if they want to increase revenue and remain competitive.”
Cantaloupe’s purchase data from January to November 2021 also showed an increase of EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) digital payments growing from 1 million transactions to 3 million. Cantaloupe predicts the number of EMV transactions to grow by an additional 2 million in 2022, reflecting the impact of EMV security changes by payment processors and card brand issuers. Vending operators should be aware of the revenue risks if their card readers are not EMV compliant.
Cantaloupe was founded in 1992 with the goal of providing cashless acceptance to the traditionally cash-driven vending market, and the company continues to be a leader in the unattended retail industry. This research reflects observed consumer payment trends toward cashless payments when customers pay in person, driven by increased adoption of contactless payment methods such as chip cards or mobile wallets. Based on the data, the study predicts that contactless payments will grow another 31% during 2022.