The use of mobile apps—which allow consumers to make purchases with their phones—is continuing to grow. Starbucks announced in January that mobile payments make up 30% of payments it receives in the U.S., with over 10 million customers using the mobile app. Other signs, however, suggest that retailers should proceed with caution: As many as 42% of college students in a recent survey said that they would not use mobile payments if they became more widely available. The result was lower than researchers anticipated, because younger users are typically the first to adopt new technologies. The choices are confusing, too, although many companies are pursuing options for mobile payment technology.
Will these mobile payment apps help or hurt mobile vending? If consumers can be persuaded to try the new technology, there will be potential for growth. Until recently, a potential customer needed to have cash in his pocket, but that cash also had to be the right denomination, and be wrinkle-free. With mobile apps, that money is accessible from a device that’s already in a person’s pocket, so mobile payments should lead to more chances to make a purchase.
Furthermore, when the machines incorporate new technology that accepts payment from a mobile app or loyalty card, operators have a new source of information to learn about their customers. This new information can be used to create offers that encourage repeat business. Location-specific offers and coupons can be tailored to keep customers coming back. In addition to stand-alone machines, micromarkets provide additional opportunities for growth in cashless payment systems