Made in Berlin
A history of cash acceptors
KIOSK EUROPE: wh Munzprufer may very well be one of the oldest cash acceptor manufacturers in the world. Give us an insight into your journey.
Christian Trenner: The ‘wh’ in our name comes from the initials of Walter Hanke, who founded the company in 1925 here in Berlin. At first he focussed on mechanical systems that could reject coins which were not fit for purpose. They were first used in simple mechanical vending machines, billiard tables and the like.
The company saw its first solid growth with the introduction of the Deutsche Mark. The introduction of a widely used coin, manufactured with such small tolerances rapidly made the use of cash acceptors a solid business case.
In 1967, my father Dietmar Trenner took over as successor and prepared what would become the biggest change in the company’s product offering; he electrified the cash acceptors. By the end of the seventies, cash acceptors were using electronics to ensure improved performance.
The new product range was the company’s biggest success. Oddly enough, while the first order for the new range did take place on a world famous street in a major capitol, it wasn’t here in Berlin as you might expect. We won the order to fit battery powered cash acceptors into the parking meters on maybe the world’s most famous shopping mile, the Champs-Elysées. Cash acceptors for harsh outdoor use continue to be one of the company’s strengths to this very day.
KE: How do requirements and challenges differ between markets?
CT: We are present in nearly all vertical markets from gaming, vending, retail, through car wash and parking to kiosk applications across the world. The requirements differ dramatically over all of these and are never the same. Each industry has different preferred dimensions, interfaces, usage patterns and security requirements for acceptors. The vending market tends to have a higher proportion of standards. The gaming sector is the most challenging with a high degree of varying regional regulation.
KE: What makes a good coin selector?
CT: Well, without giving away any company secrets, the quality of acceptors is typically considered in regards to two aspects: How well can we identify a valid coin and how reliably can we reject fake or unwanted coins? Anyone interested in cash acceptors must understand these two aspects thoroughly.
A very important third factor is the quality of the coins. Unfortunately, any coin acceptor can only be as good as the coins it processes. For example, the Euro is of excellent quality, which makes it much simpler to validate.
KE: What is different about cash acceptors for kiosks, compared with other markets?
CT: The kiosk market is very interesting with its enormous diversity of applications and requirements. Acceptors for the kiosk market must provide a degree of flexibility and a range of versions hardly seen in other markets. Various platforms are used to run kiosks, which makes it important to look at the interface compatibility.
It is essential to consider the current and future requirements of self-service solutions. For self check-out terminals we will have our TWS 100 in series production shortly. This 10 way sorter with integrated escrow function meets the requirements of this market by offering a 10 way sorting and at the same time preventing coin laundry.
We have also noticed increased demand for more elaborate security devices, such as electronic anti-pin systems, which can be enhanced even further with anti-skimming sensors or coin-jam controls.
KE: What other trends do you see affecting the market?
CT: Besides the ever present security challenges, we have seen requirements for improved accessibility being pushed further. Some countries have issued regulations that reduce the height difference between the coin entry slot and the coin return tray by so much that it is impossible to rely on gravity alone to transport coins. This makes the use of coin accelerators necessary in some cases.
Easy integration of the acceptors into the kiosk system and software is certainly a key factor. We pride ourselves being one of the first companies offering interface solutions to the industry.With our current interface boards CCT 900 and CCT 910 we provide easy integration of all kinds of payment components to PC based applications. A .NET library for Windows or a SDK for Linux are part of the scope of delivery. Remote management and control of all systems including updates and maintenance will be expanded and will contribute to driving down the operating cost of kiosk solutions further.
KE: We’ve all experienced the moment in front of a kiosk, repeatedly inserting the same coin and having it rejected every time. Do you have any tips for us? What about the popular advice to rub the coin against the side of the machine?
CT: This is the single question that I am asked most in my life! Do not rub the coin against the enclosure. There is no effect whatsoever, except the possibility of damaging the coin. This is the purest example of an urban myth I have come across in my life. The only thing that may work is to watch the sides of the coin when inserting and, if rejected, flip the coin by 180 degrees. That may help.
Monday, May 14, 2012