Digital coffee cup lets you forget the wallet at cafes

Technology is already changing how we pay, and Australia is one of the leading countries when it comes to modern payment technologies, accepting tap-n-go with ease, but a new coffee cup goes further.

In fact, it goes so far that the next time you order a cup of coffee, you might be able to pay with the cup itself.

That’s the idea behind the Frank Green SmartCup, a reusable cup made for you to take to your local coffee shop that actually has a gadgety angle (because we won’t cover it unless there’s a bit of technology inside that has changed or has the potential to change dramatically).

Inside the cup, Frank Green has built in a small chip which can talk to the CafePay payment system, simply allowing you to pay with the cup you’ll be having your coffee poured into.

In fact, the technology is in the lid, with a tap from that lid to a sensor allowing the payment process to happen.

The concept of a smart coffee cup is the brainchild of an Australian who was looking for ways to reuse coffee cups and stop people from needing their wallet, finding what he saw was a middle ground.

“I saw the detrimental impact of single-use products, particularly coffee cups and water bottles, and thought ‘how can I resolve this problem?’”, said Benjamin Young, creator of the Frank Green SmartCup.

“With payment technology emerging and consumers seeking easier ways to go about their day-to-day business, I saw a gap in the market. It’s a win-win for people and the environment.”


The cup is available in two sizes — 8oz (237ml) and 12oz (355ml) — with several colour variations made from recyclable materials that manage to be stain and odour free, with the chip inside connecting to the CafePay system and then to a credit card for easy payment.

If you do forget that coffee cup, you’ll find CafePay accepts payment from a smartphone as well, so the one time you forget the keep cup, you’ll just have to go with a paper cup instead.

“What we’re creating is the ability to go cash-free,” said Young, adding that “you can easily load credit onto your account.”

“It’s for friends to send one another a coffee ‘just because’. For people to build loyalty with their local café and be rewarded for going back. For the ease with which cafes can notify customers of special offers and discounts via the CafePay app, all whilst being sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

Pricing for the SmartCup comes in at a starting price of $34.99 in Australia, though the places you can use it with the cup-payment functionality are pretty slim at the moment, offering up seven cafes in Melbourne, two in Adelaide, one in Ballarat, and one in Sydney. We’re told this will be growing, though, so if you have a cafe you frequent, it might be worth telling them about it.