As I was feeding more than one dollar bill into the vending machine yesterday I wondered what the future might hold for this particular sales method. It holds great sway over what kind of coins the United States might choose to adopt through its industry representatives.
But coins could cease to be a part of it at all, or at the very least have a much reduced role.
With payments by cell phone a growing trend, the vending industry will have to adopt its mechanisms no matter what happens to coinage.
Payment also might be made by the next generation credit card or debit card.
Banks that issue their own credit cards might as a new business line create what I would call a small change card that could be used for small daily purchases without putting account numbers and pin numbers at risk for the cards that can be used for large purchases.
There already are prepaid cards, which caps risk both for user and vendor.
When I travel, every time I make a small purchase with a credit card I wonder if I am taking an unnecessary risk. Is giving yet another vendor my information for a newsstand purchase really worth the exposure of financial information?
Getting a small change card that would cap daily liability to, say, $50, would erase all my worries and would probably sweep away many of my current cash transactions.
Yes, I still do cash payments around Iola, Wis., to see what is circulating out there, but what I do is not a trend and has no impact on business generally.
But even with cash, vending machines really don’t need to accept coins any longer. Vending machines could be one-way machines.
With my soda purchase yesterday, I put $2 in and received 65 cents in change.
Every vending machine could turn into one that only gives coins in change and accepts none in payment. Doing it that way renders coin composition moot.
No vending machine discrimination devices would be needed at all to screen incoming coins.
Even as a collector, I start my day with pockets empty of coins. My wallet has paper money in it. My small purchases start with either $1 bills or $5 bills. The coins I get in change are simply stashed at home until I have enough to make a trip to the bank worthwhile.
Perhaps the vending machine industry will surprise us by acting as if it is no longer 1965.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."