Who has the last say in pay?


Hybrid is all about consumer choice. So how come the most popular way to pay in laundromats is being forced out?

Coin has anchored tandem setups on washers and dryers at thousands of stores for well over a decade. Some in the industry’s pay technology sector are working to change that. 

And take the coin out of coin laundry.

Pay by the numbers 

Tech wants the mech gone because cold hard cash is still hot.

In April, American Coin-op magazine’s national survey revealed 87% of store owner respondents offer quarter pay — more than mobile app, credit card and loyalty card combined.

On the revenue side, a recent poll at Facebook’s Laundromat Owners Showcase found 76% of operators reporting the majority of patron transactions at their equipment is performed with coinage, up from 67% a year earlier.

And when it comes to hybrid, two-in-three with machine readers welcome coin, according to new Facebook polling data.

Coin’s popularity is standing in the way of tech revolutionizing pay. It’s disrupting the disruptor.

Banking on exclusivity

Laundromat consumers have long enjoyed the freedom to choose from a variety of equipment sizes and fabric settings. Hybrid at the machine follows tradition by offering up their favorite pay options before hitting start.

Prior to hybrid setups, washers and dryers ran either strictly coin or coinless because every payment device was designed to fit into the very same meter area.

Loyalty card banked on that exclusivity to eliminate its cash nemesis at the point of sale and achieve 100% adoption. 

Readers went in as drops and vaults came out. Any remaining opening was sealed shut. 

‘The ultimate choice’

Replacing coin with in-house plastic received a lukewarm reception from operators. And many who fully embraced the concept still wanted more. Main Street took Mastercard and Visa, but laundromat machines didn’t.

Owners got their wish. After nearly 20 years, laundry’s loyalty card sector changed course by bringing on credit while at the same time bringing back coin. The hybrid was born.

Sleek multi-card readers were mounted prominently on panels mere inches from drops. Even car wash credit card-only firms rode in and drilled away. 

Here’s how one top hybrid exec summed it up at Clean ’11: “The store owner can now give their customer the ultimate choice. If they want to pay by coin they can do so. If they want to pay by credit card they can do that as well.” 

It was game on. May the best format win.

Going head-to-head

Sales of new card devices was cheered on by distributors along with the national media and trade association as everyone profited.

Owners meantime were installing more terminals per store than the local Walmart. They put their money on plastic beating coin in a head-to-head match.

But many were caught by surprise when their clientele opted to start equipment with coin a lot more often than card.

If two types of plastic couldn’t stop the flow, what possibly could?


By now, the players in hybrid laundry pay were positioned inside and outside the coin meter area.

Tech had a big investment in value-added card, including contactless. On the other hand, the smartphone app was good at getting frugal coin-op vets off the fence and into digital, despite meager adoption rates.

Some thought the best way to crush coin would be to team up those two tech rivals and take back the meter space.

They would follow the ol’ loyalty playbook: Shoehorn in the hardware, seal the openings and kick coin to the curb. That way the public can’t start machines using what they’re most familiar with. And they won’t even find a coin slot at the cash-in kiosk. 

Welcome to tech’s vision of the customer-friendly hybrid.

More than just quarters

Savvy laundromat operators know coinage goes beyond the hybrid’s quarter slot. 

It’s dollars to reduce money handling organically. And high-denomination cashless tokens decreasing collection frequency, thwarting break-ins and offering built-in redundancy. 

Above all else, they recognize coinage as the public’s preferred way to pay at the machine. 

The last say in pay

Hybrid was designed with consumer choice in mind. Should the format be changed to exclude change?

Perhaps we need to ask the people who spend it.

Imonexology - Laurance Cohen

Laurance Cohen is part of the Imonex team and welcomes inquiries on innovative payment solutions for your business.
(954) 999-7785

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