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High-tech cash machines could replace physical bank branches

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With the number of cash transactions dwindling rapidly in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, one of the world’s largest cash machine makers has called for the implementation of new technologies to ensure that those who still rely on paper money will continue to have access to it.

While the use of cash has been rapidly declining in recent years due to the advent of new technologies such as contactless payments, a recent report estimated that some eight million Britons would struggle without cash.

With concerns that Covid-19 could be passed on through physical money transactions, many shops (around one in ten according to consumer group Which?) are refusing non-contactless forms of payment.

ATM makers Diebold Nixdorf expect that the crisis will see cash transactions plummet by 30 per cent over the whole of 2020 and drop by another 10 per cent in 2021.

With the number of physical bank branches also declining, the company believes that ATMs could find a new role carrying out some of their functions.

ATMs could, for example, be given deposit-taking abilities, along with new technology features such as mobile phone authentication, bio-metrics and facial-recognition technology.

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 more high-tech ATMs.

Speaking to news agency PA, Phillips said the “technology is there”, but there is not always a willingness among financial services firms to invest in it.

“This will accelerate the need for more technological transformation than we have seen historically,” he said. “Some of the financial institutions are laggards when it comes to technology. Post Covid-19 and the way consumer behaviour might change is a bit of a kick up the bum for these financial institutions.

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

In February this year, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak was urged to include measures in the budget that would protect the future of cash in the UK for those who still rely on it.

Last month, a Community Access to Cash Pilot was undertaken in select towns and villages to verify the viability of maintaining a physical money system for those who still need it.

Diebold Nixdorf currently holds a 25 per cent 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 over 100 countries and employs around 23,000 people worldwide.

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