Long queues and loose change will no longer be a hassle for customers, with 16 cashless vending machines at a newly opened SPH Buzz convenience store.
Officially launched yesterday, the store - a collaboration between SPH Buzz and Mastercard - is located at the Cynergy petrol station in Old Toh Tuck Road in Jurong.
It has a manned cafe and self-service vending machines.
These are the first vending machines in Singapore to have QR code scanners for payment through a smartphone app, said Mr Raymond Yap, managing director of equipment manufacturer Auresys.
Other vending machines use card readers, which require the presence of a credit card, said Mr Yap.
Mastercard's executive vice-president of market development, Mr Chang Yunsok, said the move is part of the push towards a cashless society. Transactions will be safer, and more secure and convenient, he added. "Customers don't even need to carry around cash any more."
Customers can download the "Vending powered by Masterpass" app to scan a QR code on the machines, select their items, and pay for them from their smartphones.
The mobile app is currently available for Android devices, with iOS devices soon to follow.
Customers can choose from an array of vending machine products: snacks, drinks, instant meals, beauty products, over-the-counter medicine, phone accessories and small gifts. Prices range from $1.20 for a canned drink to $248 for a Fitbit activity tracker.
Mr Yap said the reliability of the machines is important. "When (supplies at) the machines go out of stock, other vendors have no visual. Our machines have a central management software that notifies them where to go, which machine to fill, and what products to bring," he said.
SPH Buzz chairman Chua Wee Phong said that with the hybrid concept store, labour costs can be halved.
Ms Audrey Joan Yap, franchisee of the Buzz hybrid convenience store, echoed this. She said having vending machines solves her manpower allocation problems, especially on the night shift.
Currently, the machines support both cashless and cash payments.
Older customers to the new store, Mr Chang said, will have to get used to more of these transactions in the drive towards a cashless society. As consumers get used to it, it will become natural, he added.
Mr Spencer Tan, deputy general manager of SPH Buzz Convenience Stores, added: "There has to be an educational process. We have tasted success with our own senior citizen cashiers, who are able to use apps to provide services like cash withdrawals."
SPH Buzz plans to have 200 stores, up from 60 now, in the next few years, with a mix of normal and hybrid ones around the country.