SICAP Cashless Vending Machine

The Cashless Vending Machine Is Here

Coca Cola vending machines using SICAP Mobile Payment are already deployed in Switzerland. Each machine has a sign that clearly indicates that cashless operation is available and gives a unique number that mobile phone users may dial. The number is actually a USSD string, which is captured by the Mobile Vending Machine Server (MVS) that forms part of SICAP Mobile Payment. The message is forwarded over the air to the machine, which is specially equipped with a GSM module. If the vending machine can fulfill the request then the customer is notified through a USSD text response and, in parallel, the availability of the service is shown on the vending machine's display. Having made their selection, and having received their goods, the MVS receives confirmation of the transaction from the machine, including the price of the item selected.

All error conditions and exceptional circumstances are handled gracefully by SICAP Mobile Payment, which also generates vending data records and passes them on to the operator's billing system to be handled in the usual manner. Post-paid customers receive specific information about each transaction on their next statement, while prepaid customers shortly notice that their prepaid balance has been reduced by the cost of the item purchased. Appropriate reports are generated for monitoring purposes and for settlement between the GSM operator and the product supplier.

Vending Machine USSD Messaging

Communication between SICAP Mobile Payment and the vending machine is also based on USSD. In this instance, however, it is a network-originated channel that is opened. Each vending machine is equipped with a GSM module and firmware to handle messages forwarded from the Mobile Vending Server.

Communication begins with a request to vend, which may be accepted or denied by the machine. The following variables to be controlled:

  • The maximum value of goods that may be dispensed

  • The maximum number of items that may be dispensed

  • The user timeout. If no product is selected within this period, the vending transaction is cancelled.

  • The user text prompt. This may be sent in user's language, if this is known.

When the transaction is complete, the vending machine returns details of the product dispensed and its price. Commands may also be issued to retrieve value and item counters from each vending machine. This information is then used to synchronise restocking of the machines and to help audit the settlement process

Akadia was involved in this project with the following tasks:

  • Logical and physical Database Design

  • Development of certain modules in Java and PL/SQL for the MVS Server

  • Project Documentation

  • Support during Pilot Phase


... let's have a coke ... using the handset as the payment method.