Apple Pay Gets More Useful, Coming To 200,000 Vending Machines & Other Self-Serve Devices

Apple Pay is not (yet) available at some of the nation’s largest retailers as they prepare to introduce their own mobile payment system, meaning you can’t use it to buy a week’s worth of groceries at Walmart or a TV at Best Buy, or even pay for your prescriptions at CVS and Rite-Aid. But what about those transactions on the opposite end of the spectrum, the ones with dollar values so small that you may feel odd not paying in cash? One company says it will be bringing Apple Pay to hundreds of thousands of vending machines and other self-serve devices.

The company, USA Technologies, announced today that it’s beginning a nationwide rollout of self-serve payment points that will allow consumers to do things like buy snacks and sodas, add money to a parking meter, buy a hot cup of coffee, or do some laundry without fumbling for cash or pulling out their credit card.

Even if you don’t mind using your credit card for vending machines and similar purchases, these devices are the biggest targets for scammers who install card-skimming devices that steal your information as you swipe. A system like Apple Pay means that your card never gets swiped, making ID theft much more difficult. Additionally, frequent use of credit and debit cards for small purchases can send up red fraud alert flags with your bank. While it’s a good thing that your bank is trying to protect you from going bankrupt, it means you now have to talk to the bank to tell them that yes, you did pay $3.50 for a soda at the hotel vending machine.

As 9to5mac points out, this news comes on the heels of an announcement from Chevron that it plans to make Apple Pay an option at its gas stations.

What remains to be seen is how Apple Pay will fare after the launch of CurrentC, the competing system being developed by a Walmart-led coalition of some of the country’s biggest retailers. The stores waiting for CurrentC to launch say it will have an exclusivity period of “months, not years.”

CurrentC or some other subsequent competitor could ultimately steal Apple Pay’s fire if it can include all retailers and be available on both Android and iOS.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.