You may soon be able to use your mobile phone to make purchases from traditionally cash and coin-operated vending machines.  An Oregon-based startup company known as PayRange has developed a Bluetooth-enabled device which can be plugged into the back of vending machines.  At a price of just under fifty dollars, plus an on-going commission of about 4% on items purchased through the vending machines, it is much cheaper for vendors than having to replace the machines with newer high-tech “smart” flat-screen models.

A customer would use the company’s mobile application, for example, to purchase snacks or use a washer or dryer in a laundromat via Apple Pay or a credit card on a PayRange-enabled machine.  The customer would push the buttons on the vending machine while payment would be made wirelessly in a secure manner.  According to PayRange, only 5% of the eight million vending machines nationwide currently accept credit or debit cards.  This translates into 98% of the 80 million people making daily purchases from these machines with cash or coins, leaving open a vast untapped market for cashless transactions.

PayRange has raised twelve million dollars through a recent round of venture capital financing.  It has eighteen employees and is already working with operators who cumulatively manage over a million vending machines in North America.  The company’s technology, unlike that of competitors, does not require a network connection but will allow vendors to view real-time inventory and purchase data.