Maybe, by referring to the world’s inexorable march towards cashless transactions as ‘a natural phenomenon’, I am in danger of alienating some readers? Be that as it may: not since King Canute tried to turn back the tide has resistance to a natural phenomenon been so futile, writes Planet Vending Editor, Ian Reynolds-Young.
Perhaps they’ll argue that the trend is entirely man-made; an abuse of the power wielded globally by banks and other financial institutions, for whom the demise of cash as a means of purchasing has compelling advantages? That position is not for me: in my opinion, the rising prevalence of cashless transactions is driven by one imperative alone – consumer demand. The vast majority of us simply prefer to use chip and pin, wave and pay; digital wallets and even biometrics to complete our purchases.
The advantages of cashless transactions are legion and listed among their number are a lower risk of being a victim of street crime, no more rummaging in purses or pockets for loose change (or wandering the streets in search of an ATM), plus, in these uncertain times, the reassurance of not having to handle potentially ‘dirty money’. Essentially, it’s all about ‘convenience’. However, there are also valid concerns; worries that the move to a cashless society could cause privacy issues and create problems for those who are on low-incomes and those whose credit history counts against them.
In our vending and unattended retail microcosm, one of the implications of COVID-19 is that more and more operators are reconciled to the fact that cashless transactions are the way ahead for their businesses. For many, it’s the ultimate ‘no brainer’. ‘Dirty money’ is a tag that’s going to remain with us as surely as a red wine stain on a beige carpet: we could scrub and scrub until our arms ache; but that’d be nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Ironically, many of the businesses that make cashless transactions possible in our sector have suffered the slings and arrows of vilification in recent years.
Nayax is the global leader in cashless for our marketplace, but how much does the average vending person know about them? Nayax is a global fintech company, specializing in payments and M2M communication. It is the leading provider of cashless payment devices devices, telemetry and remote management. Nayax’s one of a kind Business Intelligence vending software system, developed in-house especially for the needs of our industry, allows operators to analyze data collected in real time. The operators receive automated reports in any format they choose and subsequently benefit from a better understanding of what works for their business, for example how they can increase sales, based on factors such as location and product profitability.
In other words, Nayax can offer unattended machine operators a whole lot more than simply an alternative to cash!
That’s the reason Lewis Zimbler allows himself a wry smile when you suggest that the company is somehow in league with ‘Big Brother’, colluding with unseen powers in order to undermine the privacy of individuals. ‘It’s just not true’, he says. ‘We are there to support both the operator and the consumer by broadening the options that are available. If a machine has only a coin mech, you can’t pay for your purchase without cash. When Nayax is fitted to a machine, coin mechs and bill validators can still be operational, so we’re enabling more choice for consumers. If someone wants to pay cash, they’re still able to.
‘Ours is a complete solution providing cashless transactions, telemetry; a back-end management suite and consumer engagement possibilities. From time to time I still come across people who don’t realise that one of the alerts that comes as part of our telemetry offer is for coin mechanisms. If a jammed coin mech is putting your machine out of action, our telemetry will warn you so you can take immediate steps to get that machine back in business. We’re not ‘anti-cash’; we’re not ‘anti’ anything: we’re ‘pro-convenience’.’
Having said that, UK consumers are increasingly choosing to go cashless. According to the UK’s ‘Financial Website of the Year’, this is money.co.uk, cash was used for less than a quarter of all payments in 2019 – for the first time ever. The percentage of all payments made using banknotes and coins fell to 23 per cent in 2019, according to trade body UK Finance, down from 48 per cent as recently as 2014. The web site reports: ‘consumers were increasingly paying using contactless credit and debit cards, with card payments being used to make more than half of all payments for the first time ever last year.’ You can read their report in full HERE.
Bear in mind that the report from which these figures have been harvested was completed prior to the pandemic. Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the Access to Cash review, said ‘the impact of coronavirus has accelerated the shift to digital payments and further challenged the viability of the cash infrastructure.’
John Howells is Chief Executive of Link, the company which runs Britain’s cash machine network. He concedes that less than ten years ago, cash was used for more than half all of payments, adding: ‘over the past five months (to June 2020) we have seen reductions in ATM volumes that were expected over five years – we think it could be as low as one in 10 payments now.
‘During the lockdown, we have seen a large drop in ATM volumes, down by 55 per cent and while these numbers have begun to come back up, Link research shows because of coronavirus, 54 per cent of consumers say they will use cards more and a third say they will use ATMs less.’
The writing on the wall could hardly be printed more clearly than that, so I return to my initial point: ‘the rising prevalence of cashless transactions is driven by only one imperative – consumer demand’. For Nayax, as for other providers of cashless solutions, the mission is not to drive people towards cashless, it’s to keep up with the accelerating demand.
Vending Operators Discuss Cashless On Planet Vending
Select Vending’s Peter Graddon, HERE
Westways’ Natalie Baker, HERE
Dirty Cash: Has The Penny Finally Dropped For Vending Machines? HERE