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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Future of cash: Can a 'bank in a box' replace a branch?

Watch a queue of shoppers for a minute and they will be preparing to pay in very different ways.
Some will pull out a debit or credit card ready to put in a reader. Others might use their smartphone to complete their purchase, the rest will be paying in cash.
The group using notes and coins is still significant but their numbers are starting to dwindle, particularly among the young.
That spells trouble for the operators of cash machines. Time then for a reinvention of the humble ATM [automated teller machine] but in a digital world what can you do with a hole in the wall whose primary function is dispensing cash?
The answer is a "bank in a box", a machine that is the alternative to a branch serving all your financial needs with 24/7 opening hours, says one manufacturer.
Other experts are more sceptical. They say all that can be done is to manage the decline of ATMs, and cash in general, until they are replaced entirely by a digital wallet found on our phones.

Early days

This debate is a far cry from the hurried signing of contracts, over a pink gin, between Barclays and John Shepherd-Barron in the UK some 50 years ago.
The deal, between bank and inventor, led to the first ever cash machine being installed in London in 1967.
All did not go entirely to plan. When one was installed in Zurich, Switzerland, there was a mysterious malfunction. Eventually, it was found that wires from two intersecting nearby tramlines were interfering with the mechanism.
Yet with other devices also being patented, the ATM soon evolved and its use spread widely.
The latest figures show that ATM numbers in the BRIC nations [Brazil, Russia, India, China] have gone up sharply and machines remain a constant if not growing sight in Western Europe.
Russia, has seen rapid growth in recent years, according to a report by Payments UK, while growth in India is coming, in part, from the development of solar-powered ATMs in rural areas.
Portugal has the highest proportion of cash machines in Western Europe with 1,516 machines per one million residents.
Sweden, typical of a Scandinavian shift towards a cashless society, has the lowest with 333 machines per one million inhabitants.
Source By BBC.COM



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