KioskCom finds its feet

Now in its third year, the exhibition KioskCom Self Service Expo Europe has established itself as a European business portal for the latest in self service and kiosk technology. Reflecting the expansion of the show, it was joined for the first time by The Digital Signage Show for this year’s event, held at London’s Olympia in October.
The combined event, somewhat less than half the size of AVEX, nonetheless aimed to bring together decision makers and property managers within the retail, financial, travel, hospitality, catering, local government and healthcare sectors, to see the latest innovations in kiosk, self service, digital signage and customer facing technology.
The event has moved on from its early days. Back in 2006, there seemed to be some uncertainty about where it fitted vis a vis vending. Among the exhibits at that first show there were a number of alternative – perhaps some quirky – vending solutions which were interesting as they were attempting to push out the boundaries of the industry.
Not so this year. For although there were one or two machines to be seen, the emphasis was very much on advanced payment solutions, touch-screen technologies, self-service kiosk technology for higher value products like travel tickets, associated hardware and software producers, kiosk management systems and printers.
Asked to explain the thinking behind the show, Event Director Phil Hunter said: “As it seems that the credit crunch is with us for a time, what can businesses do to improve their positions? Some the things that we need to look at are ways of cutting costs, of maximizing revenue streams and of keeping customers happy and coming back for more.
“Self-service, kiosk and digital signage technology have been proved again and again to meet these three primary business needs. Kiosks can help reduce staff costs; self-service can help reduce queues and speed up transactions; digital signage can help target customers more effectively with the right message at the right time; and together they can help increase sales and boost revenues.”
Indeed, one of the themes of this year’s show was the continued convergence of self service and digital display technologies and how the two combine to provide fully integrated and effective solutions across the board. Representatives from Microsoft, for example were on hand to demonstrate the use of Windows technology as a platform for kiosks.
There was a host of companies displaying all the latest types of payment solutions. This is a particularly active sector at present, with eastern bloc countries, including Russia, showing ever-increasing enthusiasm for these products.
Astro Systems, a KioskCom regular, was featuring its new ST1 note validator, which offers high degrees of security and convenience, including an integrated stacker unit with lockable cashbox options. CreditCall was explaining how it can simplify credit card acceptance in self-service applications; while MEI was introducing its new Cashflow Bank Note Recycler which reduces the amount of cash tied up as a float and increases the uptime between cash refills. MEI also launched the Cashflow Bunch Note Feeder which enables users to deposit bundles of up to 50 mixed notes at one time, either linked to a smart safe in a back office or at point of sale.
Ingenico, recently merged with Sagem Monétel, is now a global leader in flexible and secure transaction and payment solutions, with a range of end-to-end solutions including hardware, software and services. At Olympia, Ingenico announced that its i3070 contactless PINpad has achieved both Mastercard PayPass and Visa payWave approval – making it the first product of its kind that can read magnetic stripe cards, smartcards, contactless cards and NFC phones.
NRI, with sister companies CashCode and Telequip, showed coin validators, changers and payout hoppers plus bill validators and recyclers, and cashless payment systems.
There were no fewer than 17 exhibitors showing state-of-the-art touch-screen products and monitors, including 3M United Kingdom and Samsung Electronics, and a similar number of manufacturers and suppliers of printers for kiosks and other unattended units, including Star Micronics, Secure Retail and Nippon Primex.
In summary, KioskCom remains worth a visit. Many kiosks after, after all, no more than smart vending machines, offering high(er) value items or, increasingly, a vast range of information – from maps to local authority services. Readers who were fortunate to attend the now-famous AVA Conference in York a few years ago might recall that one of the major messages to come from it was that vending needs to broaden its base. Let’s do it.