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Scan, Pay and Go: Revolutionising Vending Machine Payments with QR Codes!

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

A vector image showing a QR code being scanned through mobile phone

It’s 2023 and QR codes are everywhere. From bustling malls to neighbourhood kirana stores. The pandemic brought a dramatic shift in consumer behaviour leading to a surge in digital payments, especially QR codes. In this blog we explore vending machine payment solutions and how mobile QR payments in vending machines are revolutionising the unattended retail sector.

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Understanding touchless vending

As the name implies, touchless vending is basically making a purchase from a smart vending machine without having to make any physical contact with the machine. From products and services to manufacturing, across sectors like FMCG, delivery and even fintech companies, businesses across industries are leveraging digital payments to maximise payments while adding convenience for the end-user. It comes as no surprise that smart vending machines have also embraced this digital payment revolution and all its solutions. By integrating contactless payment options, these digital payment vending machines eliminate the need for physical currency and now even credit cards, delivering a seamless and secure payment experience.

A vector image showing two smartphones, indicating the contactless pay and receive payment process
Contactless Payments bring great convenience to users

In this post-pandemic world, where convenience and hygiene are paramount, contactless digital payments options have gained immense traction revolutionising the way consumers transact. With a simple tap of their card at checkout or payment through UPI and e-wallets, users can effortlessly complete their transactions with great convenience using just their phone.

Evolution of Mobile QR payments

Mark Twain once named “accident” as the greatest inventor of all time. This was also true for the invention of the QR code.

In 1994, Masahiro Hara and his team at Denso Wave in Japan were working on a way to improve the UPC barcode, which was limited in its ability to store data. They came up with the idea of a two-dimensional barcode that could store much more information. This new barcode, which they called the QR code, was an instant success. Hara didn't expect his invention to change the world, but it did. Today QR codes are used worldwide for a variety of purposes, including in providing enhanced vending machine payment solutions.

But the history of digital payments in vending machines goes back a little further than QR codes. As the world evolved towards digitalisation, the vending machine payment system too moved towardsdigital payments vending machines. Initially these involved going from coin and currency-operated vending machines to smart vending machines that accepted card-based payments. In some developing markets like India, however, smartphones reached masses quicker than debit and credit cards. And thus began the era of vending machine payment systems moving towards Mobile QR payments in vending machines. An innovation through which users can make a swift and contactless transaction with a simple scan of the QR code displayed on the machine eliminating the need for physical currency or cards and simplifying the payment process for customers

In fact, even the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is preparing a pilot project to roll out QR code-based Coin Vending Machines (QCVM) in busy public spaces like railway stations and markets, to dispense coins against a debit made to the customer’s account using UPI.

So, how do QR code mobile payments work in vending machines?

Mobile QR code paymentsinvending machines enable users to make purchases using their smartphones. Here's how it typically works:

  1. Scan the unique QR code placed on digital payment vending machines using your mobile camera and click on the link. (Remember, when you used to scan for digital menus in restaurants?)

  2. After you scan and click on the link, either an app or a webpage will open. Displaying the products within the vending machines on your mobile phone (just like a digital menu).

  3. You then select the product you wish to buy. A Vendekin-powered vending machine allows you to select up to 5 products to be bought in a single transaction.

  4. Now, after selecting the products when you click on pay, a list of digital payment options appears on screen, such as net banking, e-wallets or UPI.

  5. Select the payment option through which you want to pay, whether it is through e-wallets like PayTM or payment gateway like PayU or RazorPay or UPI-integrated apps like BHIM or Google Pay.

  6. Your mobile payment app will securely communicate with the vending machine payment system.

  7. The payment gateway will verify the transaction details, check the user's account balance or linked payment methods and authorise the payment.

  8. After successful authorisation, the vending machine receives confirmation, and the purchase is completed.

  9. The selected product is dispensed by the machine, and the user's mobile payment app shows a payment confirmation message.

It's important to note that not all vending machines support QR code mobile payments. Older vending machines have to be upgraded via technologies such as retrobox before they can accept digital payments via vending machines. Upgrading to a smart vending machine also typically gives access to an intelligent analytics dashboard such as vNetra. Once upgraded almost all types of vending machines, such as cashless coffee vending machines and snack vending machines, can be equipped with QR code scanners for mobile payments.

Uses of QR codes in vending machines apart from payments

Customised vending machines offer a convenient and contactless way for customers to purchase a variety of products. But did you know that QR codes can add much more value to your vending business apart from a quick payment? Here’s how QR codes can enhance unattended retail than merely simplifying digital payments in vending machines:

  1. Marketing opportunities: QR codes can be used in vending machines to provide offers and promotions. Customers can scan the code with their smartphones to view the promotional material. This can include links to the brand's social media handles, creating a seamless connection between the physical and digital worlds. This integration can help brands build customer loyalty and stay connected with their customers. It is recommended to use a dynamic QR code, which can be edited and updated without having to reprint the code.

  2. To share detailed information: Buyer’s today are an informed lot. They want to know what a product is, what it does, why they should buy it and sometimes even the story that goes into manufacturing it. QR codes can help brands provide this information to potential customers. QR codes can also be used to link customers at the vending machine to product pages, videos or other information about your products and services on a brand’s ecommerce website, or even a page specially designed for the vending operations. Sharing information in this way with the customer creates more trust and loyalty for the brand.

  3. To report bugs: Vending machines, even the smart ones, are after all machines which means they can suffer glitches. No matter how rare, even digital payments in vending machines may sometimes not go through, product dispensation can sometimes go wrong. All of this can lead to lost revenue, but more importantly, a lack of trust in the customer’s mind, if the glitch goes unaddressed.

To minimise vending machine downtime and to give customers an outlet to report bugs, owners can generate a QR code with an email address or feedback form and encourage customers to report any problems. This can help brands identify and fix issues quickly, minimising lost sales and retaining customer trust.

Benefits of Mobile QR payments in vending machines

Mobile QR payments in vending machines offer numerous benefits, paving the way for efficient vending machine payment solutions. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Faster and safer transactions: Traditional vending machines require customers to have cash or cards on hand, which can be inconvenient if you forget your wallet or don't have any change. Mobile QR code-driven payments in vending machines offer a more convenient and secure payment option, as customers can pay using their smartphone, connecting it with UPI or any digital wallet. Moreover, QR code payments on mobile are quick and safe. This is because the payment information is encrypted and can only be unscrambled by the payment gateway it is intended for. Also, with QR codes, no sensitive information is stored in the user’s device as the actual transaction happens on the payment gateway. That being said, however, like any other payment method QR code payments in vending machines are also not foolproof. A set of best practices must be in place and reputable payment gateways that enforce proper guidelines should be used.

  2. Reduced maintenance cost: Older vending machines that use coins or currency had a history of breaking down because of a coin or currency jam, leading to increased maintenance. Using QR codes for vending machine payment solutions reduces the need for maintenance related to jamming. Since most vending machines using QR codes for payments are smart, they can also help operators track machine status and schedule repairs, reducing maintenance costs.

  3. Sustainable: Vending machines that require printed receipts create unnecessary paper waste. QR code-based payments allow customers to pay cashless and receive digital receipts, which reduces paper usage and is more convenient for customers. Reducing this paper trail is a small but sure way to help make retail more sustainable.

Since older vending machines have to be upgraded to smart vending machines, there are other benefits that come by upgrading to QR payments in vending machines:

For merchants:

  • Great for analytics - Smart vending machines with data analytics help merchants make better decisions with customer insights. Merchants can access data on which products are the most popular, allowing them to optimise their inventory and ensure that these popular products are always available.

  • Better Inventory management - In smart vending machines, a prerequisite for offering any kind of digital payment solutions in vending machines, with each transaction, inventory levels are automatically updated in real-time. Merchants can easily track their inventory, ensuring that popular items are restocked promptly, minimising out-of-stock situations and maximising revenue potential.

Pro-tip: To track and manage the inventory, merchants are advised to invest in best vending machine software such to enhance inventory management. The software provides advanced features such as real-time tracking, automated alerts for low-stock levels and detailed analytics. By utilising vending machine management software, merchants can efficiently monitor their inventory, make data-driven decisions and optimise their operations for enhanced profitability.

For consumers:

  • Convenience and ease - Using just a smartphone and a QR code scanner, customers can make payments swiftly and easily. QR payments done through mobile phones also streamline the overall purchasing process, allowing consumers to make their selections, scan the code and receive their desired products promptly.

How are mobile payments in vending machines made secure?

Mobile payments in vending machines, and otherwise, are made secure through a combination of encryption, authentication and transaction.

Encryption ensures that information, such as the transaction amount and user details, is securely transmitted and cannot be changed by unauthorised parties.

Various authentication mechanisms such as use of PINs, passwords, biometrics (such as fingerprint or facial recognition), or two-factor authentication (2FA) methods to confirm the identity of the user before processing the payment.

How can Vendekin help?

Vendekin’s vending machine management software helps businesses collect, maintain and analyse data over time. Its smart vending machines solution such as Vnetra allows businesses to remotely track their sales and inventory anytime, anywhere. For all our smart vending machines, we also offer the ability to accept digital payments in vending machines, including mobile QR payments.

To learn more about how Vendekin can help your business get started with mobile QR payments in vending machines and all your other unattended retail questions, contact us today at or give us a call at +91 9555712713 to start a conversation.


Q1. Are QR codes for vending machines available for free?

Yes, QR codes can be generated for free through online tools such as QR code generators. However, dynamic QR codes or QR codes that don’t expire might require a paid generator or tool. When getting a vending machine customised with Vendekin, the QR code is provided for free by us.

Q2. Do QR codes expire?

Q3. Can transactions made through QR codes be tracked?

Q4. What are dynamic QR codes?


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