Are ATMs due for a makeover?
Seems so. No longer confined to just spitting out cash, the ATM must function beyond mere dispensing, crossing the Rubicon between digital-to-cash and cash-to-digital transactions.
To that end, in August, Cardtronics and CashDash announced news that they integrated cardless cash withdrawal technology to enable foreign exchange (FX) functionality, stretching across 1,000 of Cardtronics’ Cashzone-branded ATMs based in London.
Through the partnership, travelers can buy foreign currency on demand at attractive rates, with funds deposited in the Cash2Go eWallet. Funds can be accessed at the Cashzone ATMs, which are able to convert that money into British pounds with no surcharges, and, as the companies noted in a release, without the use of a physical card.
In an interview between PYMNTS’ Karen Webster and Brad Nolan, EVP at Cardtronics, Webster noted that obtaining foreign currency can be arduous and that many travelers still access currency at exchange windows or even have it mailed to them before trips.
Nolan said that friction is the motivator behind what Cardtronics is seeking to do with cardless cash withdrawal. As Cardtronics became aware of what CashDash was doing for consumers through digital wallet technology, it became a natural fit to help that company’s users access activities, like converting and redeeming funds, via digital-to-cash transactions, at ATMs.
The CashDash app, said Nolan, works by providing market rates on currency conversions and by creating what he termed, “transparency for consumers about how the funds are being converted.” The mobile app also creates a point of convenience by allowing these conversions at any time that the consumer desires and can hold the funds via digital wallet until they are ready for use. The joint efforts between CashDash and Cardtronics are early thus far, said Cardtronics’ Brad Nolan, having come out of pilot testing just a few weeks before the product’s release on the Cashzone ATMs. Marketing and social media efforts promoting the product are currently underway.
Among the leading concerns within payments that Cardtronics encounters, said Nolan, is the encroaching threat of mobile payments on (physical) cash usage. Cardtronics believes that cash has its place in the payments arsenal and that consumers prefer to pay with hard currency across different cross-border transaction options, depending on what they are paying for.
“We are not competing with mobile and digital,” said Nolan. “Since the advent of ATMs, we’ve played in this digital-to-physical space, allowing people to convert digital funds and bank accounts to physical cash in hand.”
There are several opportunities to cross this continuum, and Nolan noted that the opportunities span well beyond traditional banking transactions at the machine itself. The push that is now underway through Cardtronics, said Nolan, is in its initial stages of a new retail ATM deployment model. Traditionally, the focus has been on small form factor cash dispensers, and now the company is looking at retail ATM deployments that do what he claims are two things that phones cannot do: take in cash and get out cash.
The announcement of the partnership between Cardtronics and CashDash centers around the latter’s go-to-market product, which is currency conversion, leveraged at Cardtronics ATMs in the U.K., where both firms have presence.
But the use cases that dovetail with their collaboration are far more pervasive than just being limited at the ATM, Nolan told Webster. Both firms are reviewing opportunities for expansion of footprint and FX functionality, with an eye on phones being used for authentication and authorization for cross-border transactions.
The ability to deposit funds into a network of devices, as through the CashDash relationship, said Nolan, will offer convenience for consumers. “It’s not just about shared [financial institution] deposits; it is about opening this network up to a myriad of FinTech, mobile wallet providers, prepaid providers and so forth,” he told PYMNTS.
Thus, an Amazon customer could conceivably, as he or she chooses, pay with cash. He said that seeing how consumers treat and use cash reinforces the notion of a frictionless environment to enable spending cash, or funding cash and converting it to digital form.
“We are going to be that nondenominational player right now,” Nolan said of Cardtronics, “that works with multiple FinTechs and FIs to be the physical access point for consumers.”