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Issue Date: Vol. 41, No. 3 / March 25, 2001 - April 24, 2001, Posted On: 3/25/2001

Marconi Online And USA Technologies Join Forces

Tim Sanford

ATLANTA, GA - Marconi Online Systems and USA Technologies have announced the establishment of a strategic alliance designed to offer new revenue-generating opportunities for the vending industry worldwide. Marconi Online is a division of Marconi plc.

The alliance is said to create a comprehensive end-to-end technology solution for the vending industry, by bringing together Marconi Online's "Intelligent Vending" remote monitoring service and USA Technologies' "e-Port" cashless payment and interactive multimedia capabilities.

The combined Marconi Online and USA Technologies product offering, which will be previewed at the National Automatic Merchandising Association Spring Expo in Las Vegas, is targeted at the entire vending industry. In concept, it will allow venders to become "intelligent" machines, linked in wireless networks and able to handle many forms of cashless payment; and to communicate with other "pervasive computing" devices. They thus can conduct e-commerce and "m-commerce" transactions (the latter effected by means of personal wireless devices, like cellular telephones), and can afford new opportunities for advertising and promotion through interactive media services.

Marconi's "Intelligent Vending" service allows vending equipment in the field to transmit information for compilation into marketing, management and maintenance reports, delivered to the operating company's front office. Inventory, cash and functional status data are securely transmitted over a wireless network, helping operators increase revenue by insuring that machines always are "clean, filled and working."

USA Technologies' "e-Port" technology gives vending patrons the ability to make vending purchases with their major credit or bank debit cards. USA Technologies specializes in processing cashless transactions of less than $10, allowing the use of these cards for the "micro-payments" necessary in vending. Purchases can be made in amounts as low as $1, and are effected through USA Technologies' "e-Port" terminal. "e-Port" is a networked device that also can provide such interactive media services as access to headline news, sports and weather, as well as local and national advertising and promotions.

Last year, Marconi Online and The Coca-Cola Co. entered into an agreement under which Marconi Online provides "Intelligent Vending" technology to Coke (see V/T, May 2000). To date, the company reports, Coca-Cola bottlers have more than 70,000 vending machines online in the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

This agreement makes Coca-Cola the first customer of the Marconi Online-USA Technologies alliance, through which bottlers can add cashless payment capabilities and interactive media services to their vending machines using "e-Port" technology and associated network and financial services.

"This partnership is significant for vending operators and consumers, as they both will benefit from the dramatically improved convenience that our solution offers the industry today," said Brian Quarendon, president of Marconi Online. "We are fundamentally changing the way that people use vending machines, and anticipate that consumers will welcome the increased buying power and value-added services."

"USA Technologies and Marconi Online share the same vision," said George Jensen, chairman and chief executive officer of USA Technologies. That vision, he explained, is of "a world of networked, cashless vending machines, also capable of delivering Internet content and services any time, anywhere.

"By combining our technologies, we bring the ability to significantly change the face of the vending industry," Jensen observed.

In addition to its work with The Coca-Cola Co., the alliance is presently in negotiations with other global vending customers, independent vending operators, vending distributors and equipment manufacturers to begin distribution of the joint offering.

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