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Access to cash for many in society is remaining essential during the current lockdown around the globe. Given this, the ATM is playing an even more critical role in ensuring that consumers have access to cash and wider banking services while branches have reduced hours or closures, or customers want to avoid face-to-face or in-branch interactions completely.
Customer payment behaviors are changing rapidly. Many countries are seeing higher adoption of more low-value contactless payments, as well as increased digital banking and e-commerce transactions. That said, the ATM is still an important self-service channel for those looking for options.
Cash and ATM trends during the COVID-19 pandemic
There are many factors influencing consumer cash withdrawal trends right now. Despite the coronavirus driving up mobile and digital transactions, for instance, many countries still rely heavily on cash. Consumers are also increasingly seeking cash as a result of financial market volatility, while others just want to keep more cash on hand during a crisis.
These factors are creating new patterns for financial institutions (FIs) and small businesses to consider regarding their current cash forecasts – such as reduced transaction frequencies, but increased withdrawal values. So it’s important that banks and credit unions closely monitor current transactions to make sure they’re adequately anticipating the cash demand at their ATMs.
FIs that have sophisticated cash management tools, like cash recycling ATMs, can use these resources to track, analyze and take action based on the current situation; historical-based modeling won’t be effective right now. And, because ATMs that are still in use will likely see evolving transaction volumes, banks should transfer cash to these ATMs from any that are not in use to effectively serve their customers.
Banks are also looking for more innovative ways to get cash to their consumers – in India especially mobile ‘ATM on wheels’ is being rolled out.
Branch activities change as physical distancing becomes the norm
Now, digital and self-service solutions are more important than ever—in fact, the digital-first movement that started before the pandemic has fully arrived. And while bank branches are already impacted—we saw a sharp increase in branch activity when countries were in the early stages of coronavirus cases, but, more recently, social distancing has caused financial institutions to curtail their hours or temporarily close branches. Some financial institutions are making it easier for customers to access cash by increasing daily withdrawal limits or waiving charges for cash withdrawals at the ATM.
Others, such as the Hellenic Bank Association, implemented guidelines to protect bank personnel and customers, which included migrating over-the-counter cash transactions and payments to self-service channels, mobile and e-banking. Attica Bank, for example, deployed new self-service technology (in this case, NCR SelfServ 87 Recycling ATMs with APTRA software for higher availability, low failure, and reduced service calls) so they could easily manage higher transactions and high-volume cash deposits at the ATM, increasing their ability to promote social distancing and safer transactions.
Commercial deposits will affect cash on hand
Banks and credit unions also need to factor into their forecasting the lack of commercial deposits due to shutdowns. In most cases, cash replenishment to the ATM comes from these deposits and, if businesses are closed or operating at reduced capacity, financial institutions will need to adjust for this with their CIT—and possibly also with their central bank cash ordering service.
Technology can support consumers better than ever
Cash optimization and first-line maintenance will be a major priority for financial institutions, so it’s critical to make sure your self-service technology is fully operational and available. We also expect cash recycling to play a major role in cash availability, and as consumers prefer the safety of their cars to open queues, drive-up ATMs will continue to keep cash available.
NCR is working closely with our customers around the world to support their needs and help them #KeepCommerceRunning. Find out more at www.Francesblog.com/banking. For more COVID-19 resources, visit Francesblog.com/coronavirus. Please note Frances blog cannot advise on the best way to use, clean, or store cash during this pandemic. We recommend that your financial institution follow guidance from the WHO or your local government.