Banks must invest in tech to ensure access to cash post-Covid, says ATM giant

The coronavirus pandemic should give banks a “kick up the bum” to invest in cutting-edge technology to ensure vital access to cash in a post-Covid-19 world, according to one of the world’s largest cash machine makers.

Diebold Nixdorf expects the coronavirus crisis to see cash transactions plummet by 30% over the whole of 2020 and drop by up to another 10% in 2021.

But with more bank branches closing each year, especially in the face of the pandemic, it believes ATMs can fulfil a vital role in ensuring communities continue to have access to cash.

Matt Phillips, vice president and head of financial services for Diebold Nixdorf in the UK and Ireland, said the industry must come together to roll out ATMs with deposit-taking abilities, along with new technology features such as mobile phone authentication, bio-metrics and facial recognition technology.

He said the “technology is there”, but there is not always a willingness among financial services firms to invest in it.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “This will accelerate the need for more technological transformation than we have seen historically.

“Some of the financial institutions are laggards when it comes to technology.”

He added: “Post Covid-19 and the way consumer behaviour might change is a bit of a kick up the bum for these financial institutions.”

Cash use has plummeted during the coronavirus outbreak, with many shops encouraging people to pay by card, causing ATMs to be used less often.

ATM network Link recently found cash withdrawals were down 60% on average across the UK in April amid the lockdown as people turned to plastic.

A poll by consumer group Which? even found one in 10 people were refused by shops when trying to pay in cash during the lockdown.

But there are around eight million Britons who would struggle without access to cash, according to the recent Access to Cash review report.

“Until consumer needs change, then cash is here to stay,” added Mr Phillips.

He said ATMs could be used to better effect to help communities with dwindling access to cash, but called for “collaboration” between banks and cash machine makers.

“We’re happy to do trials with financial institutions, so we’d have skin in the game too – there’s a real collaborative nature there,” he said.

Diebold Nixdorf holds a 25% share of the UK ATM market and has installed more than two million cash machines and retail cash registers worldwide.

It has a presence in more than 100 countries and around 23,000 employees worldwide.

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