Changing Technologies in Vended Laundry
By Susan Reynolds
Laundry service providers, payment system suppliers and building owners and property managers alike were challenged in 2015 with EMV (Europay, MasterCard, VISA) compliance regulations mandating that all payment systems have the ability to accept chip and PIN debit cards by end of 2015 (in some cases earlier). Unlike the similar mandate with EMV credit cards, the ability to allow debit magstripe transactions was removed so if your payment system wasn’t upgraded, your ability to accept debit payments was over! Canadians love their debit cards and prefer to use them over credit cards for small value purchases so non-compliance would have made a huge impact on usage and revenues from the central laundry room!
Some of the U.S. based laundry payment system suppliers actually exited the Canadian market as the EMV project was too daunting and the market not considered large enough to justify the cost and keep up with the regulations. The United States is just now embarking on their EMV journey with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa issuing confirmed roadmaps and deadlines for abandoning mag-stripe for more advanced EMV technology for all merchants, processors and issuers.
Thousands of buildings in Canada were affected and had to have their laundry payment systems upgraded or changed out to new systems to ensure that the laundry card reload device was compliant with payment regulations. Laundry operators were challenged by time, manpower and significant investment to ensure that these upgrades were completed by the compliance dates.
The current focus is to continue to provide the most technologically advanced systems and to challenge and improve those systems on an ongoing basis with new options and features improving the experience to both the building owners, property managers and their residents every day.
The latest, intelligent laundry payment solutions operate in a connected environment either through IP or 3G wireless. The machines talk with the modem either by wifi or bluetooth. This real time connectivity allows building owners, property managers, their residents and the equipment service provider, a bird’s eye view into the laundry room. Of course everyone gets to see the information that would be of most importance and value to them.
With real time connectivity, you now have access to remote laundry monitoring. Residents can login and view which machines are in use prior to going down to the laundry room. They can determine how many machines are available. They can visit the laundry room knowing enough machines are available for them, and receive an alert when the machines they selected to use are completed. They can review their individual transactions, understand their spend and even print a receipt when required.
Connected laundry rooms allow the building owners and property managers to monitor and view the activity in their laundry rooms. They can review usage and gain a better understanding of who is using their laundry room, when they are using it and how often! They can also understand peak usage times, and machine use to ensure the valuable amenity they are providing is meeting resident demands and generating the expected revenue.
The service provider can also monitor and view the activity in the laundry rooms. They can ensure that all equipment is operating at peak performance and monitor whether machines are out of order. More importantly the operator can view what is happening and assist the residents if things go wrong! Individual transactions can be monitored and when a resident has trouble using a machine, refunds can be immediate for the resident. They can also be assisted with card dispensing so that they have all they need to help them get the laundry done!
Once the equipment is online, updates and upgrades are relatively easy and seamless to all of the users! Real-time connectivity, remote laundry monitoring, easy payment and quick service all readily available!
Technology and the right equipment are both key to providing a successful and profitable common area laundry facility, however the basics are still extremely important:
- Convenience is key.
- Make it safe and keep it clean.
- Enhance the social element. Make it a comfortable room for your residents to spend time in.
A combination of great equipment along with latest in payment technologies, in a clean, well-lit and well equipped common area laundry room, will be your best bet to ensuring you are providing a valuable amenity for your residents.
Susan Reynolds is Director, Marketing & Technology at Coinamatic Canada Inc.