Cash Moves with the Times
Streamlining, adding functionality and improving convenience, the once-humble ATM continuously evolves to meet modern needs, but after a year of upheaval, cash is branching out still further, now available at the tap of a phone screen.
Sonect is a Swiss startup based in Zurich, enabling customers to access cash with an app. Users simply select ‘cash withdrawal’ and enter the desired amount, then take the barcode generated to any of over 2,300 participating shops to receive cash. The mobile payment app TWINT has also recently added this functionality, demonstrating how cash and cashless options can work together to serve every payment need.
Cash is still the most widely accepted means of payment in the world. No matter where—whether a Swiss Alpine Club hut, a market or a restaurant—there is always cash.
According to news outlet 20 Minuten, every third payment in Switzerland is made in cash. It also notes a recent cable duct fire left a Cham shopping centre without telephone or internet for days. Card readers were out of action, meaning all payments had to be made in cash, underscoring the importance of having access to a payment option that doesn’t rely on electricity or internet.
Beyond Switzerland, cash has seen many other revolutions in recent times, such as the introduction of no-touch cash withdrawals via app interface with Portugal’s Multibanco ATMs. Earlier this year, some of Japan’s largest banks introduced tablets and QR codes to their cash withdrawal services, replacing cumbersome, paperwork-based systems. UK banks offered cash delivery services for vulnerable customers unable to venture out in winter, and looking ahead, thousands of retailers are set to allow customers to withdraw cash without a purchase in coming months.
In the United States, ATM Mobile Cash is another example of cash access moving with the times. Using the app, customers can arrange deposits and withdrawals at over 10,000 ATMs nationwide without a card. A survey by the app’s creators Cardtronics found access to cash was top of the list of features people want when choosing a bank account, with convenient branch locations second and easily-accessible locations to deposit cash third.