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IBM and USA Technologies Power Web-enabled Washing Machines


ARMONK, N.Y. - 30 Aug 2002: IBM and USA Technologies today announced that they will Web-enable 9,000 washing machines and dryers at U.S. colleges and universities, eliminating much of the hassle associated with laundry day at the dorm.

Called e-Suds, the systems replace traditional coin-operated technology with a new method that allows students to pay with the swipe of an ID card or the push of a few buttons on a cell phone.

American Sales (ASI), Inc will provide the e-Suds-enabled machines to colleges in the U.S.

Far more sophisticated than traditional coin-operated laundromats, the machines will be linked to an intelligent back-end systems hosted by IBM. Using the system, students will be able to visit a Website to find out when a machine will be available. They'll be able to select various functions, such as the dispensing of soap and fabric softener -- choosing from a range of products in storage bins attached to each machine. When the wash is done, they'll be notified via an email sent to their pagers or PCs.

Laundromat owners will go online to monitor machine performance and conduct proactive maintenance, as well as check filter clogs, water temperature and usage patterns -- helping to reduce the need for on-site service calls.

IBM will host the e-Suds transaction data and Web sites and integrate the washing machines and dryers with customers' back-end systems that handle inventory, payment authorization and reports. USA Technology will provide the technology, which makes transactions of less than a dollar cost effective for vendors.

IBM hosts wireless transactions in the vending and hospitality industries in the United States and Canada. The systems are used to vend snacks, sodas and even business services, such as faxes and copies. For example, Kodak has established cashless vending machines in high-traffic areas, to sell one-time-use cameras and film. With the swipe of a credit or ATM card, a zoo visitor or nervous new dad at the maternity wing can capture important memories - without cash. For the vendor, the machine automatically tracks inventory, transaction and
traffic, even machine temperature.

Today's announcement indicates the substantial promise of mobile transactions. Cashless and credit card transactions at vending machines nearly quadrupled between 1990 and 2000 and research firm Ovum predicts that wireless micropayments - transactions of less than
$10 - will total $200 billion worldwide by 2005.

"IBM's data integration and hosting expertise and USA Technology's point-of-sales systems and services are positioned to help drive the wireless vending industry forward," said Dean Douglas, vice president, telecommunications industry, IBM Global Services. "IBM and USA Technology are making vending systems smarter as well as easier for the consumer and more secure from vandalism."

Vending industry sources say the annual losses attributed to vandalism are about $500 million, not including the cost of repairing and/or replacing machines. According to USA Tech, cashless vending helps to eliminate this problem.

"This is just one more step with IBM to provide a more scalable, cost effective solution for our business as our customer base expands," said George Jensen, chairman and CEO of USA Technologies. "This relationship helps ensure that our momentum will continue to accelerate and that USA Technologies will continue to be a market leader in wireless transaction processing."

Contact(s) information

Jan Walbridge
IBM Media Relations
(914) 766-4647
walbridge@us.ibm.com

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