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Why the 3G Shutdown Could Disrupt Vending Machines

The upcoming 3G shutdown in Australia is set to impact more than just mobile phones. Many unattended retail sites—such as vending machines, parking stations, and car washes—still rely on the 3G network. Robbie Allison, founder and managing director of Quality Vend, explained to 2GB’s Ben Fordham that his vending machines began experiencing problems a couple of months ago.

“Eight weeks ago, we started to have issues, and that issue centered around card payments,” Allison said. The card reader wasn’t being properly supported by the 3G network, which is scheduled to shut down in August. This could lead to people being unable to pay for their desired snack, as has already occurred in 2GB’s own building, according to Fordham.

Replacing the card readers is neither simple nor cheap. Allison estimated that the cost, including parts and labor, is about $650 per vending machine, which amounts to more than half his annual profit per $10,000 machine. “I would be putting more money into growing my business, but now I’m putting money into my business just to stay where I was yesterday,” he said.

With the increase in tap-and-go payments at unattended retail sites nationwide, new card readers are in short supply. “There’s an issue coming along there that will happen in the next couple of months,” Allison noted. “I know I’m down five to ten percent on last year, and that’s because of these outages.”

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