I happened to be at Startup Weekend last month, and while they didn’t win, team Open Sesame has lingered on in my mind since that Sunday evening.
Basically, their business idea was to bring coin-operated vending machines into the 21st century by enabling mobile payments. There would be QR code stickers placed on the machines, which us 2.0ers would scan on our phones and use to pay via Paypal, credit card, Google Wallet, etc. (A little like this, this, or even this, but more seamless?)
This is genius. Also, potentially very dangerous to my wallet.
See, I have never been a frequenter of vending machines. Their wares are expensive, and I’m a frugalite. But also, I hate cash. I never carry hard money on me, let alone heavy, bulky coinage.
Back in high school, we had a vending machine in our common room/student lounge, where only the popular kids hung out. My friends would often stop in to grab snacks – particularly during the stressful exam periods – but I never did. I remember one conversation by the vending machine in particular, that went something like this:
Friend: You’ll go to a psychic, but you won’t spend $2 on a brownie?
My retort: I got PAID to go to the psychic. (Albeit, I had to wait for reimbursement, as you do. That was for a feature I was writing. Obvs.)
Likewise, my former newsroom colleagues often practically subsisted on vending machine fare on long days, even though we were in the heart of the city with the widest possible range of food options all around us. It wasn’t unusual for someone to do the rounds of the desks, scrounging up spare change to buy a pack of chips or a chocolate bar. Again, I never did, not in all my years there.
But remove the need for cash, and my iron will suddenly becomes more like pliable soldering wire. My willpower, when it comes to food, is pathetic. Sugar, in particular, is my Achilles heel. I won’t lie – there have been days that I would have given in and fed the vending machine downstairs if I had had coins on me.
So while I love the concept, and hope it catches on – ie, that they take it beyond Startup Weekend – I kind of hope it won’t be coming to a vending machine near me.
What do you think of the idea?