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Turning cash costs into cash savings - is it really possible?

What's more important – the payment method or having a choice of how to pay? For me the choice is important and how I pay will often be dictated by the transaction type. I regularly use cash, and it seems I'm not alone as our love affair with cash continues and physical notes retain a welcome place in our wallets. Even with the growing popularity of digital payment methods and alternative options, 85% of global transactions are carried out using our beloved notes and coins.

But for those within the financial services industry cash continues to be a problem with its ironically expensive handling costs. Add that to the undeniable fact that branches are becoming more costly to maintain, that financial services are under pressure to respond to consumer trends, and that the UK high street is undergoing a period of unprecedented change – and you are left with a convincing argument for our industry to manage the demand for cash with more efficiency.

Bringing down the cost of cash management in branch could be a real game-changer for financial networks up and down the country. So much so, that by 2021 67% of newly installed automated deposit terminals are expected to be cash recycling-enabled.

Here are three things financial institutions should bear in mind, when they are looking at new ways to boost the efficiency of their cash management processes...

1. Addressing a significant in-branch cost

For most banks, handling cash in a branch is expensive – not just because it is labour intensive for staff to count, re-count and store cash - but also because in order to ensure availability, ATMs often hold more notes than they need to.

The chance to free up some of this cash by reusing and recycling it around the branch could, over the course of time, deliver some significant costs savings which can't be ignored. We often talk about customer journeys within the branch environment but addressing the cash journey is a crucial element of a successful - and operationally effective - branch strategy.

2. Valuing security above all else

Embracing cash recycling models can also bring benefits beyond reducing the cost of cash. Consumers often value security more than anything else, particularly within financial services. They need to be able to know their hard-earned cash is in safe hands.

ATMs that have the capability to recycle cash can help financial institutions to prioritise security measures in several ways. For example, they can tackle the burgeoning problem of counterfeit notes by automatically authenticating incoming notes.

They can also solve issues relating to human error or the safety measures needed to move cash around the branch, with the need to handle the physical cash potentially eradiated. The ability to continuously regulate cash within the branch just simplifies the entire process.

3. Access to cash is key to customer experience

It's important for financial institutions to be able to fulfil consumer demand for access to cash around the clock. This is a vital part of customer satisfaction – after all, time poor consumers on their lunch break want to be able to deposit or take out cash quickly, and then move on. They certainly don't want to waste their precious time queuing for basic services.

More efficient management of cash processes can also free up staff, enabling them to focus on value-added elements of customer service. This could include simply be giving customers a personal greeting as they come through the doors of a branch, or spending more time on services that require an in-depth discussion between an advisor and a customer. Giving staff the time to offer a more personalised approach will inevitably boost the customer journey as a whole.

Working smart, and putting the right processes in place – to achieve efficiencies both now and in the future – is vital to ensure that cash is always accessible to customers as part of the payment mix. 

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Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips

Vice President, Banking Sales & Systems, UK & I

Diebold Nixdorf

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Bracknell

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