“This will just make things easier.” I am guessing that was the thought that some truly empathetic businessperson had when this decision was made.
The problem here is the assumption made by the company; that everyone has a card. Yes, this machine is at a university where every student, faculty, and staff have a card that they can charge things to. And likely yes, most people traveling through this building will have a (bank) card that they could use as well. The problem is, what about the people that do not have a card?
Increasingly, systems in society dictate that we must have access to a card, or an account that allows us some form of Internet banking. In a TED talk Jon Gosier referred to people without Internet access as Digitally Invisible, a term that describes this situation quite aptly.
Being Digitally Invisible is something that people with Internet access think nothing of, or if they do it is often a “that’s too bad” while almost instantly scrolling to the next item in their newsfeed. Requiring people to use a card to purchase food might seem trivial, but try to imagine being the person that only has cash.