Cash is Not Dead & Not on Life Support
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
May 16, 2018
Contrary to the desires of Visa and PayPal cash-payments remain a vital segment of retail purchases. Cash is becoming a smaller percentage of the overall $10 trillion in annual sales but for years cash payments have averaged $2.2 trillion per year and are expected to remain so indefinitely.
Cash may no longer be King, but it is at least a Crown Prince
The amount of cash in circulation is now $1.6 trillion and it continues to grow at the rate of 4% to 6% per year. And every year there are 480,000 ATMs in the US dispensing over $10 trillion. This cash is not used to purchase Ford pickup trucks or vacation homes – it is used to buy Exxon gasoline, Big Macs and Budweiser six-packs.
For consumers cash is attractive because bank notes do not need to be swiped, have a PIN remembered nor do they require an autograph. In addition, dollar bills leave no footprints and they cannot be hacked.
For retailers cash is nice because it avoids transaction fees of 1% to 4% and settlement times of one to four days. Plus, there are no charge backs.
More and more retailers are now offering incentives for cash sales; discounts of 4¢ to 8¢ per gallon of gasoline or surcharging credit card purchases with fees like a flat rate of 50¢ or 3% to 5% of the sale. These surcharges are decreasing the attractiveness of plastic- and mobile-wallet purchases to consumers.
But with all these attributes cash sales do have the disadvantage of exposure to theft and shrinkage. And they also have the overhead costs of manually separating and counting notes, filling out bank slips and then finally transporting the cash to the bank, either via a courier or personally.
The current solution to these disadvantages – smart safes – meet the primary goal of safety and security but they also solve to some extent the overhead costs. Smart safes have bill acceptors that count the cash deposited into them, print detailed reports for every deposit and then the next business day provisionally deposit the cash sales into the retailer’s bank account. A week or so later the cash in the smart safe is transported to the retailer’s bank to balance the account. Though the cash deposited into smart safes on weekends and holidays, on which many merchants do 50% or more of their business, is not credited until the next bank business day, and even after paying $500-$600 a month to amortize the cost of the safe and paying for CIT services, these smart safes still save retailers a net $500 or more per month.
With the current state-of-the-art technologies and the services the available market for smart safes has been recently forecast by several market research firms to be one-million units, more than twice the number of installed ATMs. The timeframe for these smart-safe installations is predicted to be five to ten years. Even with the inevitable advances in products and services the size of the retail market will not increase much but they will accelerate the market acceptance of smart safes.
As voiced by Benjamin Franklin over two centuries ago, Time is Money. An important goal of the retail cash-management industry’s is to now reduce the time delay cash smart-safe deposits are credited to retailers’ accounts allowing it to be used immediately with online banking to pay bills transfer funds or earn interest. And to lower the cost for doing so.
Watch this space.
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