The media has been full of reports that COVID has been driving us more quickly towards a cashless society. However, the reality is somewhat different.
“Cash continues to be critical to large sections of society and is relied upon by millions,” explained Christian Weisser, SVP Cash Management for Gunnebo, one of the world’s leading cash automation experts. “In fact, it remains one of the most popular forms of payment in the world.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, mixed messages from the media led some retailers to exclude cash from its stores entirely, but since then the World Health Organisation and other health experts have made it clear that the risk of picking up a virus from cash is extremely unlikely.
Weisser added, “At Gunnebo we have been supporting the common-sense approach that the majority of retailers have adopted, which is to apply the same hand hygiene measures to cash as to any other surface.”
Gunnebo, which operates in 25 countries globally, specializes in automated cash management solutions in the front and back office that significantly reduce or even eliminate staff interaction with cash, allowing retailers to continue accepting cash transactions while maintaining the necessary hygiene standards.
“There is a clear necessity for stores to provide customers with the option to pay by cash. Retailers want to support the choice of their customers, but also want to handle cash more hygienically and with fewer touchpoints,” said Weisser.
And automated cash management systems do not only deliver on hygiene, they also make cash less expensive to handle and improve the efficiency of the retail cash process.
The need for cash in retail and banking to further automate is still huge. Based on studies the market for retail cash automation will grow by 7 per cent globally year on year to 2024.
“Being a Swedish company gives us an interesting perspective on the future of cash. Despite Sweden’s cashless credentials, the government there realized it had gone too far. This is why new inclusivity legislation came into effect on January 1st requiring banks to provide an adequate level of cash services, a law that was designed to protect the more vulnerable sections of society–the elderly, those with disabilities, those living rurally, or those who simply do not have access to digital payments,” said Weisser. “Let’s not forget as well that there are many parts of the world where cash is still the dominant currency, such as Brazil and Indonesia, for example.”
As the virus has spread around the world, Gunnebo has seen a temporary halt to large project roll-outs, but there has been a buoyant market in the servicing of its 50,000-plus cash management systems.
Weisser explained, “We have put a lot of focus into delivering support as normal to our customers. Many of our clients, such as banks, pharmacies, and groceries, are part of the critical infrastructure of society so it is paramount to keep their businesses flowing,” said Weisser.
Many of Gunnebo’s solutions are well placed to meet the demand for “light touch” cash transactions, from QR code terminals for the dispensing of coin rolls to cash payment stations for self-checkouts.
Weisser added, “Here closed cash management is the ultimate cash hygiene solution as it removes the necessity for manual cash processes entirely. Staff never have to handle cash either at the point of sale or in the back office. And as a completely closed system, it is also the best way to reduce shrinkage and improve security.”
The trend for self-service–turning the machine to the customer–is accompanied by a higher demand for smart software.
“Intelligent systems bring a whole host of efficiency and cash flow benefits to the retailer such as cash level monitoring, real-time data, and same-day credit arrangements. This means that although the cash is still safe in the store, the liability has shifted to the bank ahead of reconciling the balance–so retailers know the cash is there and they can draw on the balance for cash flow purposes,” he said.
“The transactional playing field is now levelling up and no one need fear that cash is somehow going to disappear anytime soon,” concluded Christian. “As well as facilitating cash hygiene, our job continues to be making cash handling cheaper, more efficient, and more secure every step of the way.”
Find out about hygienic, efficient, and secure cash handling from Gunnebo.