By Marcus Tiedt, Sales & Marketing Director, Innovative Technology
In the current uncertain climate with the Coronavirus impacting every corner of the globe, having the ability to automate cash transactions is important for practicing good hygiene for businesses and society as a whole.
At the start of the pandemic there was much panic and uncertainty around cash and its ability to carry and transmit the virus. Over the past few months, the World Health Organisation, Head of the Health Department Germany, The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), ESTA (The Cash Management Companies Association), ECB and many other organisations confirmed that there is currently no scientific evidence to confirm that COVID-19 can be transmitted through coins or banknotes. However, many retailers are still strongly advising other forms of payment even though handling cards, mobile devices and touching keypads in public places, could carry an equal risk. According to The Wall Street Journal, it might be the right decision to keep extra cash on hand and consumers who favour mobile wallets might have just as much to worry about as those who handle cash, since smartphones can be “a haven for germs.” It’s also been disappointing to hear that some payment providers are even using the coronavirus as a platform to increase their market share by highlighting that cash could accelerate the virus transmission.
Amid the panic buying and empty supermarket shelves which sadly featured at the start of lockdowns which were imposed throughout the world, local shops saw a big increase in the number of customers. Some of these smaller, more local stores can only accept cash so it is important that customers are able to pay with cash safely. The level of cash use obviously differs from county to country, with some regions being more dependent on cash than others. But one thing is clear, despite advancing technologies driving the rise in both mobile and electronic payments, cash is still by far the most widely used form of payment globally. Therefore, the need to ensure that both businesses accept cash and customers can pay with cash is just as important in times of crisis such as COVID-19.
Convenience is often cited as the key factor when choosing to use low-tech cash over digital payment methods. People can trust cash; it is readily available and reliable. The fact that cash does not have a digital footprint is also attractive for some consumers especially in a world where so much personal information is shared; cash helps protect the anonymity and confidentiality of its users. Also, cards often incur fees whereas cash is free. Security is also a consideration and there is no risk of cybercrime and fraud. Most importantly, cash has no barriers, and is available to every part of the population.
Across many parts of Europe, cash transaction automation is already practiced within various retail businesses. For example, in some establishments like butchers and bakers, cash can be deposited directly into machines and change given without the need for cash to be handled by the shop servers. The kiosk industry is also a prime example where the use of cash payment automation is well established. Affordable, easy to use systems to make cash transactions safe are ideal for many other applications too, including convenience stores, pharmacies and petrol stations and indeed any business with a cash management terminal.
During the pandemic, some manufacturers have developed products that enable customers to transact using cash, in a safe and hygienic way. Cash automation machines can protect both staff and customers; enabling social distancing during cash transactions while eliminating the need for staff to handle cash. The customer can manually insert the notes and coins directly into the machine and shop assistants do not have to touch the cash as the machine will automatically give customers the change they need. As well as reducing the risk of spreading viruses and bacteria, it also helps give the customer a better shopping experience too. Cash automation machines ensure payments are quick and easy for the customer, save time for sales assistants who no longer need to count the cash and give businesses a more efficient way to quickly empty and refill their cash management terminals.
Hygienic cash automation kits that enable retailers to take cash payments are essential for organisations to ensure they continue to give consumers payment choice throughout the pandemic and beyond. Many customers who want to pay by cash need to be given the freedom of choice to do safely – after all cash is the only inclusive form of payment available to all.