ON, Canada - Vending machines at the Ambassador
Conference Resort here are now equipped for purchases of
snacks and drinks by patrons using their cellphones in
place of cash.
A trial of the vending technology, which proved a
success and led the resort to continue it, was the first
in Canada to combine both mobile phone and cardkey
technologies over a wireless network.
Guests at the resort can use their mobile phone or room
keycards to purchase Coca-Cola products from vending
machines. With a cellphone, a customer dials the number
listed on the machine and makes a product selection; the
charge appears on the guest's hotel invoice at checkout.
The cellphone vending system has proven to work with
current handsets, with no need for patrons to upgrade to
a newer cellphone to use the service.
Following installation of the cellphone technology,
resort officials reported increased sales and an
improved guest experience. The cashless system also
reportedly reduced the time spent by hotel staff in
dealing with coin exchanges and coin jam problems.
At the Ambassador Conference Resort, Coca-Cola is the
vending and product supplier, Bell Canada provides the
wireless service, and cStar Technologies is the vending
and wireless technology enabler.
Existing vending machines can be updated with cStar's
processing module to handle cellphone and smart card
transactions. The vending machine does not require a
wired connection to process a cellphone transaction, as
the installed module can create a wireless link to
forward the transaction data.
In November of 2005, the three major Canadian telephone
operating companies, Bell Canada, Rogers, and Telus,
formed a consortium to move forward on mobile commerce
initiatives in 2006. This includes pursuing such
micropayment initiatives as mobile commerce transactions
from vending machines and other points of service that
will appear on customer cellphone invoices.