SINGAPORE - Pay and play for your ice cream treat. That is the idea behind Happy Ice's vending machines.
The Singapore company has installed more than 40 of these machines which operate like arcade claw machines where players try to pick up an item with a mechanical claw.
Customers are guaranteed at least one item each time they play, which costs $2.50 to $3 depending on where the machine is located.
Happy Ice director Daniel Ma, 35, told The Straits Times: "Sometimes, customers can even get two ice creams at one go."
Mr Ma, who has been in the ice-cream business for 3½ years, said his company rolled out the machines, which are designed and built in Singapore, in January.
The quirky machines are located in shopping malls such as Kallang Leisure Mall, Changi City Point and West Mall, as well as recreational spots and certain offices.
The ice cream is imported from Taiwan and Malaysia, and have also been certified as healthier-choice products by the Health Promotion Board.
Mr Ma, who has an engineering background, said the machines were built in-house as it is expensive to buy ready-made vending machines, which cost about US$10,000 (S$14,200) each.
"We designed and built it ourselves but some of the parts such as the outer casing, we got from China," he said.
The machines built by his team cost about $5,000 each to make and they can easily recoup this in under a year, he said.
Happy Ice plans to implement cashless payment and also to expand overseas, first to Malaysia.
The firm has secured a patent for the machine.
Asked why he chose ice cream vending machines as a business concept, Mr Ma said: "It's convenient. It's a new concept. You can play, you can have fun, you can eat, and it's a healthier choice!"