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Cash here to stay

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Cash, and the ATM, are here to stay, despite the growth in use of digital payment channels.
This is according to Allen Mahadeo, head of self-service channels and branchless banking at Absa, who believes that the writing is not yet on the wall for cash or for the cash-dispensing ATM.
Mahadeo says cash will always be king for the average consumer for a number of reasons, including the psychological security of having cash on hand provides when compared to the abstract nature of digital currency.
This is backed up by the “2016 World Payments” report, which states that cash circulation levels are stable and, in some regions have slightly increased over the last five years.
This is the result of factors such as cash payments being free of bank charges as well as the anonymity that they provide compared with the digital ‘fingerprint’ associated with digital transactions.
The longevity of cash is despite the growing trend, especially within developing regions such as southern Africa, towards digital channels.
Digital channels have also gained in popularity given factors like the increase in use of smart mobile devices, the availability of digital payment services by non-banking institutions such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, as well as a rise in consumer demand for these kinds of simple, instantaneous financial services.
According to the 2016 World Payments report, non-cash transaction volumes grew 8.9 percent globally in 2014, and accounted for 387.3 billion transactions.
However, as bank cards are the fastest growing payment method, this means that the ubiquitous card, and the ATM, are still valued as transacting tools.
Mahadeo notes that, while customers may be visiting ATMs less and making fewer transactions, they are withdrawing more money during those transactions.
ATMs still also play a big part in banks’ omni-channel service delivery by ecosystem, as customers send cash to relatives or friends, particularly to the unbanked, who then access the funds via ATMs.
And, ATMs are getting smarter, and going beyond providing services such as airtime sales, low-value payments, instant loans and other digital services.
Now, they are being transformed so the customer’s experience will become much more convenient, thanks to personalisation.
By enabling the personalisation functionality on Absa’s new ATMs, customers will have the option to personalise their transactions; their preferred language, favourite account, receipt or no receipt preference, as well as the addition of their name (up to a maximum of 40 characters).
Once these details are captured, the customer will be prompted to save this as a favourite transaction. When visiting an ATM again, the ‘favourite transaction’ menu will pop up first, making transacting quicker, more efficient, and the service experience more tailored to individual requirements.
Thanks to the continual upgrades of ATMs, these machines will continue to play a big part in the lives of customers, as they have evolved from cash-dispensing auto-tellers to digital one-stop service ‘branches’ located at a street corner, garage or shopping mall near you that is available around the clock.