Speaking about contactless payments on jukeboxes ahead of this year’s ACOS, James Luck, commercial director of Soundnet TouchTunes, explains why he believes installing a cashless solution is an inevitability for most operators.

Can all operators benefit from having a contactless payment option?

I personally believe this is the only way forward for the majority of operators, and in a recent test we ran over the last four months, over 26 percent of payments on the jukeboxes we studied were contactless. There’s less cash – and more specifically, coin – in pockets now, and there’s going to be even less next month, and next year, and so on; there’s no way to avoid it. When I go into a pub nowadays I often don’t even get my chance to offer my card, because the bar staff have already offered me the machine. So straight away, after buying my first drink, I don’t have the means necessary to play the jukebox, because they haven’t given me any change. For some pubgoers, being given change is often the trigger that prompts them to spend their spare coins on the jukebox, but even if I had planned to put on a song before paying on card, I don’t have the means. If there’s less change about, there’s less opportunity to play the jukebox.

How do the changing payment methods in pubs effect jukeboxes?

There has been a huge increase in contactless payments in the pub over the last few years, with Barclaycard revealing in 2017 that 86 percent of all pub payments were made via contactless – representing a 60 percent increase over the previous 12 months.

Year-on-year, that’s a lot more pub-goers walking around with potentially zero cash, and I’d imagine that if those venues suddenly stopped taking card payments, there would be a huge loss of income as patrons find themselves short of physical money and migrate to alternative locations. For many operators, this could be the case with their jukeboxes that don’t accept card payments. Recent data in the press showed that only 20 percent of all UK retail purchases were made by cash in 2018, but there is no data on how many pub-goers walk up to the jukebox with their card, realise the jukebox doesn’t accept card payments, and walk away – potentially never to try that particular jukebox again.

What’s the biggest incentive to invest in contactless?

Like with any new technology, you have to make that investment eventually if you know it will improve your product and, in time, pay for itself – and the earlier you do it, the earlier it pays off. For contactless capability, the investment is an inevitably, especially as jukeboxes become more and more advanced, and as such, are more popular with millenials and younger generations. To them, a touchscreen digital jukebox without a contactless payment option doesn’t make any sense – it’s no longer a feature, it’s an expectation. We have also found this with our mobile app, which in some sites can take as much as 50 percent of all income. It depends on the venue and demographic, as even some older jukeboxes could still really benefit from a contactless payment option in certain cases. The truth is, you don’t know what your missing with contactless until you have it.