AMI Deal Is Seen As Major Step In Expansion Into Music-Amusements Field
USA Technologies reports that AMI Entertainment Network Inc. of Bristol, PA, has chosen its SDK software to handle cashless transactions made on Megatouch countertop terminals. The software, developed for USAT's ePort system, provides immediate operator connection to the USALive Network for card-processing services.
The Malvern, PA-based company, which has spearheaded the application of cashless technology to merchandise vending, notes that the same consumer imperative is at work in the music and amusement sector.
"Customers are paying for food and beverages with their credit and debit cards, and it's only natural that they would expect to pay the same way for countertop games, or music on jukeboxes," said Mike Lawlor, USA Technologies' vice-president of sales and business development.
"We are finalizing relationships to handle cashless technology and card processing services for countertop games, [other] amusement machines and jukeboxes with a number of leaders in the field," he added.
The self-serve retail industry is looking beyond just swipe cards, considering consumer trends to contactless cards and mobile payment using cellular phones, the USAT vice-president pointed out. Global giants including PayPal, Google, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are fast moving into the mobile commerce space, and when combined with the significant ramp-up of NFC-enabled cellphones (Near Field Communications), all indications point to enormous growth in mobile commerce in 2011, 2012 and beyond.
"Consumers want the convenience and speed that comes with paying with their debit or credit cards, and an NFC-enabled phone will only make electronic commerce that much more convenient and faster for consumers," Lawlor observed. In the games and amusement market, as elsewhere, patrons no longer would need to deal with quantities of coins or tokens, and operators would avoid the burdensome task of dispensing, collecting and processing them.
And since research has shown that credit and debit card purchasing power increases revenue streams, operators would enjoy the immediate impact of higher revenue, as well as a competitive point of difference, the company emphasized.
USA Technologies provides solutions that can accept every form of cashless payment, from traditional "swipe" credit and debit cards to prepaid media, contactless smartcards and wireless/cellular phone payment using NFC-enabled instruments. The payments company noted that its prominence in cashless point-of-sale technology has been highlighted in the Nielsen Report, which ranks the company sixth in the U.S. and 31st worldwide for POS shipments.
The appeal of open-system cashless payment acceptance in music and amusements is similar to its attractiveness in vending, Lawlor said. "Vending is one of the biggest self-serve industries, with eight million machines in the U.S.," nearly all of them making small-ticket sales. Worldwide, some 30 million machines do about $100 billion in annual volume.
"Cashless is going viral throughout the vending and self-serve market," he summed up. It was just a matter of time before it spread to the pay-for-play amusement sector, as well.
USA Technologies has seen the acceleration to cashless payment in the self-serve market firsthand, and in a short period time. In the past 12 months, the company reported it more than doubled its cashless customer base to 1,400 clients in the self-serve retailing space. It now has nearly 110,000 cashless connections to its ePort Connect service, twice the number of connections as one year ago. The company's annual cashless transaction run-rate is exceeding $100 million a year, with the daily transaction count approaching 250,000, the company added.
And it's not just merchandise vending. USA Technologies powers 8,000 eSuds-only-line cashless laundry services at 57 universities and colleges in the U.S., and is expanding these installations into multifamily homes and high-rise apartment buildings, too. The ePort cashless solution is also being installed in such automotive services areas as car washes, and car tire inflation and vacuuming services at gas stations.