Where will cash stand in 2021?| Commentary | ATM Marketplace

I am seeing a lot of predictions and wrap-ups these days from industry experts that want to voice their opinions on how the events of 2020 will impact businesses and consumers in 2021.

I think all of us, especially in this industry, have strong feelings on how we felt the year went. We saw COVID-19 shut down states, countries and businesses and just when we thought it was over, cases are resurging again. We watched hospitals struggle to find not only protective equipment for staff to treat coronavirus patients, but ventilators to help patients struggling to breathe. Legislature was passed to help the small businesses survive the pandemic, but then we learned the funds were barely distributed to this group that were left struggling to survive. People were hoarding products; education went online and payments, as we heard over and over again, were migrating to a cashless society.

And If a global pandemic wasn’t enough to wish this year to end, there were several devastating and damaging hurricanes; hundreds of protests for racial equality and an election that provided more late-night talk show fodder than ever before. Not to mention that all traditional holiday events, including the ball dropping from New York’s Times Square, will be virtual this year.

Yes, I think we’re ready for this year to leave, but what will 2021 look like for this industry?

An article that ran recently on the BBC site had a headline, “Goodbye to ATMs. How local shops offer access to cash.”

Goodbye? Really? According to the article the thousands of people commonly referred to as the unbanked or under banked, are struggling in the U.K. to access cash. According to the article these people don’t have a computer, let alone internet access, especially in the rural areas. Link, the U. K’s ATM network, is currently running trials to find ways to help those without cash access. In one community, Link has created a financial hub in a Methodist church and in locations without bank branches there’s drop-and-go deposits at small businesses.

The point is not necessarily what is working, but the fact that in the U.K. Link is trying to do something to ensure there isn’t a bon voyage party for cash in the near future.

Link ran a footprint report that showed from April to September cash withdrawals from ATMs dropped 81% in London and 70% in Edinburgh and Glasgow compared to the year prior. And yes, these figures are from the U.K. but there are hundreds of studies and a bevy of figures from this country to show how the ATM industry in the U.S. has been affected in comparison to last year.

My question to you is what are you doing to promote the use of ATMs and cash payments in your area? Are you working with a Chamber of Commerce to promote the use of cash this holiday season? Are you working with bank branches to host open houses to promote the bank and its ATMs? Have you talked to the merchants in your network to determine what you can do to help? Have you joined one of our industry organizations such as ATMIA or NAC and gotten involved by joining a committee? Are you working with social media experts and sending out messages to customers and businesses or finding new ways of marketing your business through the suppliers listed here on ATM Marketplace?

The point is, there is a lot more we can do. Whether you’re slamming the door shut on 2020 and opening it wide to welcome in a new year, keep us posted on what steps you, your business and your merchants are doing to keep this industry thriving. As your industry’s publication, we want to share your successes and help provide you the necessary information to make the coming year a successful one for all of us.

Be safe and stay well.

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