Many industries across the market have enhanced their business practices by utilizing the flexibility and convenience that unattended credit card payment systems offer.

If you are a merchant that accepts digital payments and is looking to enhance your payment experience or create new business opportunities, self-serve kiosks may be the perfect processing solution for you.

What is an Unattended Payment Kiosk?

Unattended payment kiosks are point-of-sale systems that require no attendant or employee to process a secure payment successfully. Customers complete transactions on their own through card payment terminal hardware that is embedded in a stand-alone kiosk.

Self-service Gains Popularity

The self-serve check-out and check-in process has gained popularity in the last few decades. Partially driven by technological innovation of payment methods such as mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay, with their contactless readers, self-service point-of-sale has quickly become a fast-growing solution in the payments industry.

In early self-serve innovations, gas station attendants and grocery store cashiers became less and less necessary to complete transactions. As time has passed, self-serve technology has increased in form and function.

Now, we see more and more industries attracted to the benefits of unattended payment solutions beyond gas stations and supermarkets. Customers have grown accustomed to the ease of purchasing movie theater tickets, vending machine treats, parking passes, groceries, or train station tickets, without any employee assistance.

Who Can Benefit From Unattended Card Payment Solutions?

Beyond what was illustrated above, if you are curious if your place of business could benefit from unattended solutions, below is an idea of industries and uses for self-service technology.


  • Gas & Car Washes
  • Retail
  • Grocery
  • Vending
  • Parking
  • Food & Beverage
  • Travel & Transportation
  • Hospitality
  • Medical & Health Services
  • Lottery, Gambling, & Gaming
  • Financial Services
  • Education
  • Government & Municipality


  • Patient/Guest Self-Checkout/Check-in
  • Transportation/Entertainment
  • Ticketing
  • Grocery Check-out
  • Quick Service Restaurant Orders
  • Vending machine
  • Air & Vacuum
  • EV Car Charging Station
  • Store Locker Pickup
  • Photo Kiosk
  • Bill Payment
  • Pharmacy Dispenser
  • Driver’s License Renewal

Unattended Payment Solution Obstacles

Unattended payments do not mean simply transplanting countertop credit card terminals into a kiosk enclosure and walking away for customers to serve themselves.

There are far more requirements and obstacles that must be deciphered to have a successful self-serve transaction.

Businessman paying for a parking ticket at a parking meter kiosk


Keep in mind, in many cases, unattended payment stations are in outside environments. These could be in parking lots, entrances to parks, drive-throughs, storefronts, sidewalks, etc.

Kiosks and terminal hardware must withstand weather conditions. A properly built machine is equipped to handle exposure to extreme conditions such as rain, hail, snow, excessive heat, wind, etc.


Additionally, some outdoor kiosks are in locations that may be more subject to criminal activity, including vandalism, theft, etc. With this in mind, self-serve payment kiosks should be secure and protected against potential physical damage.

Additionally, the credit card processing company that a merchant uses to process payments on their self-serve terminals should be able to offer top-notch security.


Lastly, unattended kiosks are beneficial in remote areas. Self-serve kiosks easily accept payment in places where it is difficult to have a cashier staffed full-time.

Though self-serve kiosks are a flexible way to collect payment in these rural locations, they also may require maintenance that may be difficult to obtain or that may take longer than ideal. In these cases, you will want to be sure your merchant service provider can guarantee speedy assistance with their terminals when necessary.


Additionally, remote locations can prove difficult when it comes to online payment connectivity. To complete a transaction, a terminal must be able to connect online.

The server needs to reach the processor to submit a credit card’s data. Then the processor needs to reach the bank and the bank needs to reach the card network. Then, they all need to communicate the card’s status back to the terminal.

Though self-serve payments occur in person they need to have the same internet connectivity as any online transaction would. Be sure your credit card processor sets you up with proper online channels for your self-serve terminals. Or informs you how to do so with your internet provider.

Woman paying for gas at a gas station with her phone


Your business has the opportunity to maintain committed customers and accept transactions anywhere and at any time. Even when there is no face-to-face interaction at your point-of-sale location, payments never have to stop and your business continues.

Ease, efficiency, flexibility, security, cost-effectiveness, and a positive customer experience are all attributes that the adoption of self-serve payments brings merchants. We will explore all these benefits and more below.

Seamless Integration

Unattended payment solutions and modular smart terminals are intuitively designed to seamlessly integrate your payment processor, gateway, kiosk hardware, and software.

There are a wide variety of unattended payment solutions that can be conveniently placed inside your brick-and-mortar location or in an outdoor lot or designated external location. These solutions offer durable and reliable payment acceptance from any unattended environment.

Ease of Use

With increasing technological advances and the self-sufficiency of today’s consumers, merchants no longer require staff to be present at payment stations to accept credit cards and complete transactions. Self-serve kiosks seamlessly guide users through the transaction process with ease.

Even if a customer has never had a self-serve experience, modern terminals make it a painless experience. Unattended self-serve payment terminals and kiosks still offer a pleasant, user-friendly, experience. The terminals have easy-to-use interfaces, guided sound instructions, and bright, colorful LCD touchscreens.


However pleasant it may be, person-to-person consultation and check-out/in are no longer necessary. Unattended payment solutions allow customers to complete their purchases without the prolonged wait time to reach a cashier or small chit-chat while they wait for their purchase to be complete. Though human interaction makes the world a bright place, many modern-day consumers are looking for quick, efficient buying experiences.

Customer Experience

Speaking of customer experience, for merchants that have a high volume of customers, offering self-checkout can speed up time in line. Which increases sales and thus, customer experience.

Many Americans today are in a time crunch with their busy schedules. Merchants that can offer efficient shopping experiences are sure to gain more customer loyalty and repeat business.

Man paying for a meal on a big touch screen inside a restaurant

Payment Acceptance Variety

Businesses that process electronic payments have a world of possibilities open to them. Merchants process digital payments in person, over the phone, online, mobile, contactless, etc.

And now, with self-serve options, merchants that adopt unattended kiosks as a form of accepted payment can offer more to their customers, grow, and adapt for the future.

Self-serve terminals have been equipped with the latest technology so they securely accept swiped, EMV chips, and NFC and contactless payments through mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.


Self-serve kiosks offer the most flexibility available when it comes to accepting payment whenever, wherever. Unattended payment solutions allow merchants to process transactions with no employee, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With kiosks available for indoor or outdoor placements, the standard boundaries of locations or hours for taking credit card payments no longer confine businesses.

Secure Payment Acceptance

Unattended payment kiosks accept payment securely. Equipped with the latest industry standards in compliance software, PCI compliance, and security measures will keep customer data safe.


Unattended kiosks are not only cost-effective, but they can also save money, and create further profits. With self-serve payment terminals, businesses can still make money, without time, location, or staffing restrictions. Unattended kiosks reduce staffing costs but increase sales amounts without boundaries.

Additionally, many self-serve kiosks can even ask customers if they are using debit or credit to complete their purchases. Because credit fees are higher than debit, merchants can set their terminal to inform the user if they are using credit, there will be an additional transaction fee. This then covers merchants’ additional processor fees.

Common Unattended Card Payment Solutions

Woman paying for a parking ticket at a parking kiosk

Parking Kiosks

There are a few ways to pay for parking. But no one wants to wait in line to get into or out of a parking lot. Schedules are important to remember when it comes to customer experience. Drivers want to be able to park and leave as quickly as possible.

Whether placed in the entrance, exit, or aisle of a parking lot or structure, unattended kiosks are flexible. Customers can take a parking ticket and pay with their card or mobile wallet when they leave or upon entrance to the lot. No attendant is required.

Couple paying for groceries with a pin pad point of sale

Grocery Self-checkout

One of the most common self-serve payment experiences that have become popular worldwide is grocery self-checkout. As convenient as this has become, it has yet to become a fully employee-free experience.

If a customer is purchasing alcohol or an item’s price is not found, an attendant may be notified for assistance. However, self-checkout has diminished the amount of checkout staff grocery stores are required to have to maintain the registers.

African american man checking in at an airport through a touchscreen self service kiosk

Entertainment and Transportation Ticketing

For the last few years, purchasing entertainment or transportation tickets have become a mostly cashless transaction. Unattended kiosks have created an easy customer experience that avoids lines.

Because most movies and many transportation services have assigned seating as well, many new self-serve kiosks have capabilities to easily select available seating and times without the need for employee consultation.

Self-serve kiosks take up little space and therefore multiple stations can be set up to serve many customers outside subway stations, railway stations, airports, theaters, sports arenas, and event spaces.

Retail Kiosks

Credit card payment solutions for retail businesses have evolved throughout the years. Today, not only have retail merchants taken advantage of mobile terminals, some even have now adopted the newly attractive retail self-serve payment kiosks.

Customers can browse and select products in the store or the digital catalog on the kiosk. Once shoppers decide on their products, they can securely pay at the kiosk and get their dispensed items. Or meet an associate to pick up their merchandise. Or like supermarket self-checkout, the design of many retail unattended kiosks offers a barcode scanner built in for self-checkout after a customer picks their desired items.

Additionally, kiosks allow customers to shop without feeling the pressure of an associate pushing for a sale or an upsell.

Man paying for fast food on a touchscreen kiosk inside the restaurant

Food and Beverage Kiosks

The Food and beverage industry has been able to use a diverse range of unattended solutions throughout many unique dining experiences.

Drive-through: Customers can order, customize, and purchase food through drive-through kiosks. Then they can pull forward to the next window or wait for their food to be delivered to their cars to complete the transaction.

Fast casual and quick-serve restaurants: Fast casual dining or quick-service restaurants have installed self-serve ordering and payment systems. This allows diners to order and pay at a kiosk and then pick up their orders at the counter when they are ready.

Vending machines: One of the oldest self-serve consumer options to date. Though vending machines started as cash-accepting, many today only process digital payments, as consumers now rarely carry cash. Customers select, pay, and take their purchased items dispensed right from the same machine.

The overall customer experience is continually evolving in the food and beverage industry as new payment innovations continue to arise.

Graphic showing a pharmacy kiosks surrounded by pharmacy products

Pharmacy Dispensers

Many pharmacies are only open during certain times of the day. However, in the world of health and medical necessity, sometimes this limitation can be a matter of life or death. Pharmacy self-serve kiosks make it possible for patients to pick up and pay for their prescriptions when it best fits their schedule.

For example, a hospital may release a patient after a pharmacy’s closing hours and the patient may be in severe pain and in need of their medication. A pharmacy’s hours may conflict with a patient’s needs. Having a self-serve kiosk can save someone a lot of pain and serve as a major convenience to patients around the globe.

Self-serve pharmacy dispensers not only cater to customers that require prescription drugs. They also dispense over-the-counter medications as well such as pain relievers, ointments, and bandages. Because these products require no pharmacist consultation, and no doctor’s approval, offering self-service access helps improve efficiency and increase revenue. Even after hours.

Self-serve Payment Adaptation and the Future

Some may ask, what about jobs? Do self-serve kiosks cause concern for increased unemployment?

Jobs for customer service positions including front office staff, cashiers, attendants, ticketing agents, etc. may be sacrificed as unattended intelligence pierces through the marketplace. However, this does not mean technology will cause all human jobs to no longer be necessary.

Additionally, unattended kiosks increase a merchant’s profits outside of typical boundaries such as opening hours or strange locations. In many of these cases, merchants would have never had a staffed employee to accept payment during these cases regardless. The kiosk simply acts as an addition to business opportunities.

Machines are wonderful and have helped increase the quality of life in so many ways. However, human interaction and the human mind is irreplaceable. There will always be a place for our unique needs in almost any industry.


Merchants who add self-serve options to their digital payment acceptance provide themselves the opportunity to save money on overhead, increase profitable hours, and generate higher revenue outcomes. It’s best to locate a provider who can set you up with the best in this technology.

Top payment and card solution companies offer their merchants self-serve options to expand their digital payment acceptance.

ECS Payment processing can help provide you with self-serve terminal options that will help you meet your needs and attract more customers 24/7. Contact one of our expert representatives to learn more today.

Interested in more insight about transparent pricing, understanding your payment processor options, and ways to grow your business profits?

Check out some of our recent articles below for comprehensive pricing structure breakdowns:

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To contact sales, click HERE. And to learn more about ECS Self-Serve Payments visit Hardware.