Why cash use is important to financial institutions and consumers

By : Colin Gordon

November 16, 2017 01:00 PM

On November 22nd, 2017, the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) will host its first ever Withdraw Cash Wednesday event, highlighting how using cash can help consumers improve their lives by taking control of their finances.


The campaign is backed up by videos, social media profiles, blogs and other content that encourages people to visit ATMs every Wednesday to take out cash for their weekend spending. November 22nd is a particularly significant date for the launch of the initiative in the US, falling just before Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season.


Mike Lee, chief executive officer of ATMIA, said: "There's a lot of cash-bashing going, but in today's world, cash continues to be the number one way people choose to pay. Withdraw Cash Wednesday is a super way to help both consumers and the ATM industry."


The ongoing reliance on cash - in various markets around the world - is something that financial institutions need to consider as part of their plans to offer the best possible experience to customers. Considering this, what actions could financial institutions take to encourage and support cash use?


Take an omni-channel approach
The ongoing growth of the mobile and digital banking spaces should not be seen as a threat to cash and the ATM channel, but rather as an opportunity to promote diverse, omni-channel banking.


We are increasingly witnessing how technological evolution and innovative thinking are removing barriers between physical and digital banking.


The ever-increasing reach of the mobile channel means banks now have a powerful platform to engage with customers and promote the advantages of ATMs and cash.


Useful tools such as ATM finder features within mobile apps could also prove beneficial for mobile-first consumers who still rely on cash for certain key transactions.


Communicate the benefits
Cash is such an established and familiar part of the financial ecosystem that some consumers may take its unique advantages for granted, or not give much thought to how using cash could benefit them. The importance of cash to consumers is best highlighted by MasterCard’s consumer journey research that states cash is used in 85% of consumer payments globally.


One of the key messages in the Withdraw Cash Wednesday campaign is that cash can help people in complicated financial situations to take control of their money. Withdrawing physical currency from an ATM and using it for regular purchases and payments can help consumers to improve their spending awareness and budgeting.


Cash can also provide maximum convenience and reliability for people with busy lives who want to use a familiar, universally accepted payment option.


Optimize the ATM experience
Any bank that wants its customers to withdraw cash from ATMs must uphold its end of the bargain, by maintaining high standards and delivering the best possible experience in this channel.


Firstly, consumers expect to be able to access basic services, which requires financial institutions to optimize their ATM cash management and minimize the risk of faults. It's vital to have clear strategies and solutions in place to achieve these goals.


Going further than this, recent innovation has enabled the self-service channel to achieve a higher level of functionality than ever before. Contactless access, mixed-media deposits and on-screen connections to remote tellers are just a few of the services offered by next-generation ATMs.


As well as helping customers, these features open opportunities for banks to improve efficiency and drive revenue, so there is every reason to encourage your customers to make the most of the ATM channel.


With over 3.2 million ATMs installed globally and over $13.6 trillion (the equivalent of 17% of entire world’s GDP)* withdrawn in cash each year at these ATMs – it is clear to see that the ATM and cash use will remain an important aspect of the payments landscape for many years to come.


*Source: Retail Banking Research Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2022

Colin Gordon

Financial Services SelfServ, Marketing Manager

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Colin Gordon is a Global ATM Marketing Manager based at NCR’s R&D Center in Dundee, Scotland. Colin is responsible for the marketing of NCR’s financial hardware portfolio with a specific focus on activities such as demand generation, sales enablement, market analysis and customer engagements for the ATM business.