How Do Vending Machines Know Money is Real?

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Some people think twice about investing in vending machines because of their security. Can it really detect fake coins or bills? Also, can it accurately count the money going in? You might find it surprising that these machines are smarter than you think.

Other than trying to insert a fake coin into a machine, you can read this guide to answer your questions. Vendors use advanced technology to read and tell money apart with a slim chance of error. How it works may seem complex. Yet, it’s simple and effective once you learn about it.

How did past vending machines work?

The oldest automat works like modern machines today. In the first century A.D., Heron of Alexandria built a machine that could dispense holy water. A person inserts a token into the slot. Next, they press the lever down. Then, the liquid flows as the token gradually falls off the lever.

This concept faded into history until making a comeback in 1893. Stollwerk, a chocolate company, used vending machines to dispense their products. However, this outdated version couldn’t tell between a real and a fake coin. In the end, people managed to get free chocolates due to this scam.

In the 1970s, developers started launching vendors that can ‘read’ banknotes. It has a magnetic head that detects the magnetic ink. Every bill has signature features. The machine uses them to sort every denomination.

However, these machines usually cannot read crumpled or marked banknotes. Also, con artists found a way to make counterfeit money using magnetic ink. That made older vendors riskier than the ones today.

How modern vending machines operate

Nowadays, most automats use top-of-the-line security to prevent vending machine scams. Cameras or photocells installed on modern vendors make money detection more efficient. These components are programmed to spot visual markings. For example, they can read the unique stripe and other subtle patterns of every banknote.

Other vending machines can detect the paper material and measure the bill. UV light can also reveal hidden markers printed on the paper. In some cases, the vendor can ‘read’ messages that differ for each denomination.

For coins, the most common tools used are electromagnets and light sensors. The electromagnetic component tells the type of metal. On the other hand, the light sensor measures coin size. The machine collects the details and compares them to the database. If the inserted coin doesn’t match the saved information, they instantly get rejected.

The systems set in place for the latest vendors are accurate. Thanks to new technology, automat owners can have less worries regarding counterfeits.


Developers continue to innovate vending machines, which gives rise to point-of-sale (POS) vendors today. You can find a great variety of automats to own or rent at We offer plenty of options that you can invest in right away. Call us to know how!

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