Even in a touchless world, cash is king

Issue 1 2021 Security Services & Risk Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a remarkable increase in online trading as people have had to move to ‘touchless-everything’. While online trading is definitely more convenient and quicker, one has to ask whether this may be the turning point that sees the use of cash decline.

A cashless society has been a topic of conversation for many years, but while cashless payment options have exploded, the use of cash has not declined – especially in poorer countries where there are high numbers of ‘unbanked’ people. To find out what’s happening in the real world where cash is still king, and since ATMs are a common source of cash transactions, Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Russel Berman, sales director at Spark ATM Systems, to expand on what its business has experienced in the past few months and what it expects going forward.

Berman notes, “The decline of cash usage is a topic we are often asked about. The statistics shared with us by the Reserve Bank over the last fifteen years have revealed that cash is a payment method well entrenched in South African society. The share of transactions concluded with cash remains around 88% when measured by volume.

“This means that the competing payment mechanisms introduced into the market have replaced card usage rather than cash usage. This can be seen where e-wallet type products simply see phones replacing cards. This is all a shift within the 12% of card spend in the country.

“Cash will always play a vital role in the informal sector and the taxi industry as the preferred payment method.”

Even being able to draw cash at supermarket pay points has not had a major impact on ATM usage. “Cash back at the till has been an offering of many of the major South African retailers for many years,” adds Berman. “It has never grown in popularity in this country and thus ATM demand remains high. We believe that cardholders prefer the anonymity of an ATM, appreciate the extended hours of service an ATM offers, and prefer to have cash in hand before shopping rather than at the time of checkout, amongst other reasons.”

The future of ATMs

ATMs have been around for years, and there seems to be little improvement in the technology. Of course we now see cardless transactions where people can use their smartphones to draw cash, but are there new developments in the pipeline?

Berman recognises that cardless cash withdrawal is certainly an exciting development in the ATM industry, but notes that the company also has a biometric device that has been ready for market since 2014. “While the technology is easy to implement, we have not been asked for this feature by any of the South African banks.”

Of course, living in Africa means that ATM cash withdrawals are risky due to the insanely high levels of crime. Even when ATMs are placed indoors and are under video surveillance, thefts and muggings still occur. And then there is still the question of hacking ATMs to provide the thieves with easy access to money, as has happened in the past.

Spark ATM Systems has a dedicated risk and security team assessing and analysing both the physical and virtual security of its sites and network. “Our devices and network undergo rigorous testing in order to ensure that we pass the EMV and PCI standards required by our banking partners.”

Talk about the benefits of a cashless society will no doubt continue for some time, however, with even Bitcoin transactions being available via ATMs in certain countries, the ATM as we know it will not be fading into history anytime soon. Similarly, the use of cash will be around for many years, even though there are alternatives. Perhaps the advances in biometric identification will one day make transacting with your fingerprint or via facial recognition too convenient to ignore, but the use of cash and ATMs today is not a factor of technology, but rather a personal preference and even a necessity for many people.




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Deception technology crucial to unmasking data theft
Information Security Security Services & Risk Management
The ‘silent theft’ of data is an increasingly prevalent cyber threat to businesses, driving the ongoing leakage of personal information in the public domain through undetected attacks that cannot even be policed by data privacy legislation.

Read more...
Data security and privacy in global mobility
Security Services & Risk Management Information Security
Data security and privacy in today’s interconnected world is of paramount importance. In the realm of global mobility, where individuals and organisations traverse borders for various reasons, safeguarding sensitive information becomes an even more critical imperative.

Read more...
Proactive strategies against payment fraud
Financial (Industry) Security Services & Risk Management
Amid a spate of high-profile payment fraud cases in South Africa, the need for robust fraud payment prevention measures has never been more apparent, says Ryan Mer, CEO of eftsure Africa.

Read more...
How to prevent and survive fires
Fire & Safety Security Services & Risk Management
Since its launch in August 2023, Fidelity SecureFire, a division of the Fidelity Services Group, has been making significant strides in revolutionising fire response services in South Africa.

Read more...
A long career in mining security
Technews Publishing Editor's Choice Security Services & Risk Management Mining (Industry)
Nash Lutchman recently retired from a security and law enforcement career, initially as a police officer, and for the past 16 years as a leader of risk and security operations in the mining industry.

Read more...
Risk management: There's an app for that
Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
Zulu Consulting has streamlined the corporate risk management process with the launch of Risk-IO, a web-based app designed to consolidate and guide risk managers through the process, monitoring progress as one proceeds.

Read more...
Integrated information platform for risk management
Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
Online Intelligence recently launched version 7 of its CiiMS risk and security platform. Speaking to SMART Security Solutions after the launch event, the company’s Arnold van den Bout described the enhancements in version 7.

Read more...
Global Identity Fraud Report revealing eight-month ‘mega-attack’
Editor's Choice Security Services & Risk Management
AU10TIX recently released its Q4 Global Identity Fraud Report, with the research identifying two never-before-seen attack patterns, with the worst case involving 22 000+ AI-generated variations of a single U.S. passport.

Read more...
Linking of security officers by security businesses
PSiRA (Private Security Ind. Regulatory Authority) News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
[Sponsored] By law, all security businesses are required to declare their employees to PSiRA so that they can be accounted for administratively. Failure to link employees by security businesses is a contravention of the Code of Conduct and a criminal offence.

Read more...
AI augmentation in security software
Security Services & Risk Management AI & Data Analytics
The integration of AI technology into security software has been met with resistance. In this, the second of two articles, Paul Meyer explores the challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to empower AI-enabled, human-centric decision-making.

Read more...