I recently saw a really simple to use touch-screen based phone/calling card dispensing device.
And this at the spanish grocery store in a not-very-modern part of Jersey City, NJ.
(I call it spanish grocery as no one in the store spoke another language!)

Really simple touch-screen interface. First choose the country you want to call …

Touch Screen Phone card dispenser

Then choose from cards to call using (different rates, per minue charges, etc)

Calling card purchase via kiosk

-OR- You can buy cell phone pre-paid cards/minutes by US mobile carrier (TMobile, Cingular, etc)

Buy mobile phone pre-paid airtime

There are simple shopping-cart options to buy pay using a credit card or cash (credit card reader seen in pic 1 above). And you can choose your amount/denominations …

Choose multiple amounts/denominations

I really believe the companies pushing such devices are finally targetting the correct market. A touch-screen kiosk should finally move away from modern shopping malls, airports, and corporate office complexes to more everyday uses where the consumer finds them a convenience and uses them for simple purchases, both pre-planned and on-the-go.

It often happens that technology is so wound-up around the early-adoptors (ok, I’m one too) that it often fails to make it’s mark on the masses quickly enough. I see tons of other new devices that don’t need to remain high-priced or locked out of reach of people buying items in the lower dollar figures.
This machines dispenses $5 calling cards and without any noticeable overheads in cost for the use of technology. Remember the $1.5 technology surcharge when you buy movie tickets online? or stupid $1 convenience fee when paying New Jersey car parking tickets online?
Remember you stupid morons in the US and NJ govt. … my paying the parking ticket online is saving me time, but more importantly, it is saving your department’s a whole lot of money in maintaining cash counters and longer office hours to collect payment.

Ranting aside, I am very happy with this use of technology for the poorer people (who really buy these low-priced calling cards in the first place).