Vending machines across Australia and New Zealand will soon accept cryptocurrency, thanks to a partnership between Coca-Cola Amatil and digital asset integrator Centrapay.
Centrapay said its platform is designed to "help brands connect directly with individuals and increase revenue and operational efficiency for merchants". Its CEO, Jerome Faury, believes the platform overcomes integration complexity and poor user experiences which have been barriers to the adoption of technologies such as digital identity and assets.
"We have solved both these issues. Centrapay is pioneering the way to enable this new internet of value and bring its benefits to both consumers and merchants," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
"At Centrapay, we're working to create a future where individuals are in control of their own data and digital identity. Brands can connect directly and ethically with people, empowering them to make the right purchasing decision, whilst also supporting their retail and other distribution partners."
Amatil's customers can use their Sylo Smart Wallet at any one of Coca-Cola's 2000+ vending machines with a QR code payment sticker.
These are located across New Zealand and Australia and will accept payments in cryptocurrency or other digital assets with a scan of the user's phone's camera, provided that the Sylo Smart Wallet is installed.
"Now we've shown how it can work in Australia and New Zealand, we're looking to grow the business globally. We've established a presence in North America and will be targeting the US market next with some world-first innovations," Faury said.
With COVID-19 ushering people away from using physical cash to pay for goods and services, Centrapay believes transacting with digital assets is the perfect solution as it will also reduce how much people need to touch the vending machine. Vending machines across Australia already accept "tap and go" payments, allowing contactless transactions, however.
"It comes with the added benefit of reducing physical contact and addressing the hygiene concerns we've all become acutely aware of due to COVID-19," Faury added.
The announcement comes as New Zealand moves into Alert Level 1, following 17 days without any new cases of COVID-19 in the country.
New Zealand went into lockdown 26 days after the country's first case. At that time, the country had just over 200 cases.
"Google tracking showed that during our lockdown, New Zealanders massively reduced their movements -- by 91% to retail and recreation -- better than Australia, the UK, the United States, and nearly every other place we compare ourselves to," a statement from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
"Had we not acted, 11 days into our lockdown we were projected to have 4,000 cases. We had 1,000 and one of the lowest rates per capita in the world."
Level 1 means public events can be held without limitations, same as private events such as weddings, functions, and funerals. Retail, hospitality, public transport, and travel across the country are now also fully opened.
"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time -- it is a sustained effort," Ardern added.
"We almost certainly will see cases here again … but when that occurs it will not mean we have failed. It is the reality of this virus. We must be and we are prepared for future cases."
With the lift in restrictions, the NZ government has asked sector groups, businesses, hospitality firms, churches, schools, and others to display QR codes via posters at the entrance of premises in order to monitor any potential transmission via the NZ COVID Tracer App.
"Manual sign-in is no longer required, but we do ask that you put up a QR code poster at the door of your premises so people can scan in and can keep a record for themselves," the PM said.
The NZ COVID Tracer is a Ministry of Health contact tracing app that creates a "digital diary" of the places visited by the user, through capturing QR codes placed on posters around the country.