If the best test cases for NFC payments are small, frequent transactions such as parking and transit, a new deal announced today between USA Technologies Inc. and Isis may be the beginning of something big.

USAT is a provider of cashless payments for self-serve retailing (think vending machines). Isis is the mobile payment joint venture between three of the four largest wireless carriers in the U.S. — Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA. The two companies announced today that they will target up to 7,500 vending machines in Isis test cities of Austin and Salt Lake City for Isis Mobile Wallet acceptance, using USAT's NFC-enabled ePort technology and ePort Connect service.

In other words, no more hunting for change to buy a soda; just a tap of the phone on the vending machine and the goods are delivered.

"Our work with Isis is a great example of how we are executing our comprehensive mobile payments strategy, including leveraging USAT's growing footprint of NFC enabled touch points to bring more value to our customers," said Stephen P. Herbert, chairman and CEO of USA Technologies.

The e-Port Connect service  is USAT's wireless, end-to-end cashless payment product that is specially tailored to fit the needs of the small ticket, self-service retail industries. According to USAT, half of its ePort Connect-enabled vending machines, which number 174,000, can accept NFC payments. Of those, approximately 7,500 are in the Austin and Salt Lake City areas.

"We also believe that our work with Isis sends a clear message to vending companies in these two cities — and to the broader market we serve — that there is tremendous opportunity in cashless adoption," Herbert said.

USAT said other vending operators can begin accepting the Isis Mobile Wallet as well, simply by installing the company's NFC-enabled technology.

For Isis, the deal provides another testing ground for its mobile wallet. The company recently launched pilot programs for the wallet in Salt Lake City and Austin, with a larger rollout expected next year. With acceptance at vending machines, the company instantly adds a large number of acceptance points for its mobile wallet.

"By working with USAT, we look forward to expanding the growing list of places where consumers can use the Isis Mobile Wallet," said Jim Stapleton, chief sales officer at Isis. 

For more stories like this, visit the contactless/NFC research center.

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