Recent figures from the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) have underlined just how significant a role the humble cash machine – which turned 50 this year – continues to play in the financial system.
The capability of the self-service channel is evolving all the time, with ATMs taking on an increasing number of tasks and transactions that were once restricted to the branch.
As a result, it’s arguably more important than ever for financial institutions to get their self-service strategy right, and one of the key steps in that process is meeting cash demand.
Rising numbers and expanding functionality
According to recent analysis of industry data by the ATM Industry Association, there are now between 475,000 and 500,000 ATMs operating in the US alone. Globally, the figure is upwards of three million, according to RBR Global.
ATMIA said the US ATM market is approaching the half-million milestone after years of “stagnant growth”, which was attributed to factors including the wider economic situation and the migration to EMV.
David Tente, the industry group’s US executive director, said: “These numbers confirm what we have suspected in recent months. There is growing recognition of the important role that ATMs play in our payments system, and alongside of it, in a new wave of branch transformation that is sweeping through the banking industry.”
In terms of the new technologies and solutions having an impact on the self-service channel, ATMIA noted that an increasing number of financial institutions and ATM deployers are rolling out contactless withdrawals and person-to-person money transfers. They also looked to the future, predicting that the use of app-based platforms for an enhanced user experience, greater security and interoperability could be a defining trend.
Keep the lifeblood flowing
The payments ecosystem offers more diversity and choice than ever, but cash remains a highly popular, heavily used option for consumers, providing the lifeblood of the self-service channel. Three-quarters (75 percent) of adults in Germany, 64 percent in Britain and 58 percent in the US still use cash to make purchases at least once a week, according to recent research by Blumberg Capital.
Financial institutions have a responsibility to get their cash management right, in order to maximize availability and meet customer demand. Dedicated solutions will help banks to optimize cash distribution, ensuring that individual branches and ATMs are sufficiently stocked and not holding excess cash that could be invested elsewhere.
Cash management solutions can also enable financial institutions to conduct targeted analysis for each individual cash point and receive pre-emptive alerts to avoid cash outages. When it comes to logistics and transportation, there are services available to help institutions achieve maximum efficiency and keep costs to a minimum by having the visibility needed to challenge much of your cash costs.
Savings are linked not to the size of the bank or its network, but its ability to streamline processes, remove waste and create those efficiencies that are fundamental to mitigating risk in cash management.
What seems clear is that strategies and methods such as these will remain extremely important for the foreseeable future. Despite the popular debate around the prospect of a cashless society, many consumers around the world remain heavily reliant on cash and demand the best possible self-service experience.
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