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Kiosks and virtual currency may not seem at first glance to have much in common. One is a self-service tool and the other is a decentralized currency.

However, they share one public relations problem: Some people regard them as irrelevant. Some view kiosks as antiquated tools superseded by mobile phones, and virtual currency as overly complex and only useful to criminals and anti-establishment activists.

These beliefs are ultimately wrong because they consider individual cases rather than the whole picture. By taking a step back, we can learn several lessons from virtual currency and kiosks and their roles in the push for omnichannel solutions.

Consider the value of the technology behind the app

A particular type of virtual currency or kiosk is simply an application of a broader technology. In the case of virtual currency it is the blockchain, a public ledger that keeps track of all bitcoin transactions. In the case of kiosks it is self-service technology.

In both cases, it is easy to criticize individual apps. For example, someone might point out the volatility of bitcoin as a bad thing in a currency, or point to a mobile app that performs the same task as a kiosk, but does it more efficiently.

But criticisms aside, it’s the technology behind the app that really counts. Having a self-service solution that channels users into particular tasks will always be useful. And having a transaction tool that offers the security of the blockchain is proving useful to the financial services industry.

The best solutions solve problems

A recent blog post discussed the need to make sure a kiosk solution is solving a real problem. Businesses collapse when they fail to do this. For example, Blockbuster collapsed because it was no longer offering a convenient solution to the rental problem — Netflix offered an easier solution.

Fortunately, kiosks and virtual currency can offer solutions to many kinds of problems. Kiosks can help users save time by simplifying complex processes such as renewing car tags, copying keys or identifying tourist attractions. Bitcoin can help ensure more secure transactions and serve as a payments solution — as in the case of marijuana kiosks. And the blockchain has been used to support microgrids, identity management and smart contracts.

If you keep the problem in mind, the solution will always be relevant.

It all figures into the omnichannel pie

In this age, people do not expect to use only one piece of technology, but rather, they expect multiple technologies to be integrated in order to deliver a pleasant user experience. Each technology has the potential to fit into the omnichannel pie. For instance, residents who wish to renew their driver’s licenses should be able to do so online, on a mobile device or at a kiosk.

Omnichannel does not eliminate technologies but rather calls for them to complement one another.

Ultimately, kiosks and virtual currency are not irrelevant tools but rather important aids that can help  revolutionize finance, self-service, vending and other industries. True, it is important to look at individual applications and the reasons why they might fail or succeed, but it’s also important to examine the technology and philosophy behind it to discover its true potential.

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