If financial inclusion remains a critical strategy for financial institutions and governments alike, how best should we address both the unbanked (those without any bank account) and the underbanked population (those who do not have adequate access due to location or connectivity). For many, the answer is cash.
That helps explain why, even nearly three years after the demonetization of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes, cash remains the preferred payment method for consumers. According to the Reserve Bank of India, most survey respondents preferred cash due to a lack of internet and point-of-sale infrastructure, followed by the complexity of digital transactions and their unfamiliarity with digital payment systems.
So, to counter the digital divide, deployment of self-service solutions is critical to reach marginalized and vulnerable communities in Southeast Asia and India.
According to RBR, “at the end of 2026, the installed ATM base in India is expected to reach 263,000”. Initially, when the Reserve Bank of India demonetized some of its currency, there was panic amongst cash dependent consumers, which caused availability issues so FIs focused largely on maintaining their current estates. This, followed by the pandemic, has slowed deployment of new solutions. As India begins recovery from the effects of the pandemic, emphasis will shift to replacing or modernising ageing ATM fleets.
Similarly, security legislation such as anti-skimming protection, CIT controls such as cassette swap capability and updating operating systems to Windows 7 or above, has put pressure on financial institutions to replace – as the cost of upgrading ageing estates versus deploying end-to-end managed solutions through as-a-Service models is realised. Particularly as the cost of carrying cash increases.