For years, there have been efforts to do away with the use of paper cash and checks and replace them with more efficient electronic means of transferring value. And over time, one might think we’d get to an entirely electronic system.
Not likely, or at least not likely any time soon, according to Steve Rathgaber, CEO of Cardtronics Inc., a leading owner and manager of ATMs globally. And that’s especially true in certain markets, such as Germany, where 80 percent of transactions are done with cash, he told Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster in a recent podcast interview.
(jump to: 4:40) “That is a very cash-centric market. As that economy grows, that cash utilization will grow,” Rathgaber said. “Then there are developed-country models, whether it be India, … whether it be Kenya, or China, or Russia, where the economies, as they grow, and as they develop more aggressively, cash will be used more and more by folks."
Though he couldn’t look to whether the situation will be similar in 2030, “I think between now and 2020, we’re in pretty good shape,” he said.
Mobile’s impact on cash
Just as credit and debit cards have displaced cash use, use of mobile devices also represents a potential means to put cash on a deathwatch. Or does it?
Rathgaber thinks not. (jump to: 6:40) “It’s one of those leaps of logic that just doesn’t stand up to look what’s actually happening,” Rathgaber said. “I think mobile will be a force to be reckoned with with payments. I think it already is, and it’s a growing force. But I find mobile to be more about a form factor migration from plastic, where the credit card is the device, or the debit card is the device, onto other kinds of digits housed in the mobile instrument."
As such, Rathgaber doesn’t view mobile as a threat to cash as much as much as he perceives it as a more convenient vehicle for making credit or debit card payments. In fact, he sees mobile complementing ATMs in that they could send withdrawal or deposit receipts, or coupons, could to mobile devices.
(jump to: 7:45) “There are lots of opportunities to leverage mobile technology,” he said. “Quite frankly, I view it as a friend to cash at this point, and a compliment to the way we deliver our services."