Dirty Cash

Dirty Cash: Has The Penny Finally Dropped For Vending Machines?

‘Where there’s muck, there’s money’. Flip over that hackneyed phrase and you land in the reality of life lived in fear of COVID-19: ‘where there’s money, there’s muck.’ The jingly stuff in our pockets and purses now goes by a new name – ‘dirty cash’.

Before the crisis kicked in, the proportion of vending machine payments that were ‘cashless’, whether by means of card readers or apps, was accelerating; but be warned: We ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

LINK ATM has undertaken weekly consumer research with YouGov since early March, to monitor shopping habits. The conclusions are stark for retail and hospitality services that, hitherto, have been cash bastions. It’s estimated that 50% of consumers no longer carry cash. Not only that: there’s been a significant shift in the use of contactless payment by the other 50%.

Dirty Cash
Go cashless, or be hung out to dry?

‘Make no mistake: the pandemic is a serious wake-up call for any industry that’s dependent on cash payment’, said Rob Little, MD of Vianet Smart Machines. ‘The viability of the entire vending industry is now under threat, because fewer and fewer consumers are carrying cash and the vast majority of vending machines are not equipped to accept any other form of payment.

Many operators have experienced the fundamental inconvenience of cash as they have come to terms with the reality of the lockdown. How do you get your hands on your income, when the money you need to survive is gathering dust in a machine that you are forbidden to access

‘The process of collecting cash, counting it; banking it and accounting for it is as anachronistic in our modern society as quill pens or Green Shield Stamps’, Rob said. ‘As an industry, we’ve had the opportunity to embrace the advantages of cashless payment technology for years. The truth is that, in ‘the new normal’, cashless is no longer an option to consider, it’s a ‘must have’. We should see that not as a problem, but as an opportunity. Contactless payment benefits the operator every bit as much as the vendor. Put simply, there is no downside risk and with the income from contactless transactions appearing in their bank accounts in a matter of days, that can only mean one thing: vending operators’ businesses will be infinitely stronger and more secure when ‘cash’, finally, is consigned to history.’

Dirty Cash
Mark Parry

Nobody could have predicted the cataclysm of COVID-19. However, Vianet foresaw the ‘dash for cashless’ and has spent the past year or so gearing-up in readiness. A new team of four Business Development Managers, under the management of another recruit, former Compass man Mark Parry, has been recruited and trained. ‘We’re ready to respond positively to the demand’, Mark said. ‘We are aware that many of the enquiries we’re currently dealing with are motivated chiefly by the desire to avoid being left behind. However, we’re keen to focus on the positive benefits that are part and parcel of going cashless. By leveraging Vianet smart machine technology, our customers have the opportunity to connect a single data-gathering device with its own on board communication capability to an asset, system or machine. The device then sends data back via our IoT platform to cloud based servers. Data is collected real time, enabling customers to proactively improve performance and utilisation of asset, creating transformational opportunities for growth.’

Evidently, the issue of ‘dirty cash’ is the key-driver that’s compelling the vending industry to investigate the possibilities of a cashless service as never before. Peter Graddon, Co-Director of Select Vending précised the situation succinctly in an article published recently on Planet Vending, which has been widely shared on social media. ‘People are scared of handling cash’, he said, ‘and although we’re told it’ll be OK, whether we like it or not there’s still an element of doubt in the public about using cash. I’m a contactless convert myself: wherever I can, I use my phone or card to pay for things. Fortunately, Select Vending now has a lot of machines out there that are cashless, so there’s some optimism for us on that front. Whichever way you look at it, though, the vending industry is going to look very different in the future.’

Peter’s hit the nail on the head: ‘dirty cash’ has brought the vending industry to a crossroads. It could be that by addressing the cloud of the public’s concerns, operators will enjoy the silver lining of cashless…

Dirty Cash: Did You Know?

  • In a recent Mastercard survey focused on the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, 82% of respondents worldwide now view contactless as the cleaner way to pay
  • And 74% stated they will continue to use contactless payment post-pandemic
  • The World Health Organization released a statement on March 9 recommending that people turn to cashless transactions to fight the spread of Covid-19
  • Many retailers have banned the use of cash in their stores to keep employees and customers safe, opting for contactless payments instead. (Source: Euromoney)
  • ‘Coronavirus marks the real beginning of the end of cash.’ (Source: Yahoo Finance)
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented public concerns about viral transmission via cash. (Source BIS.org)
  • Cash withdrawals in the UK have dropped by 60% as more people turn to contactless payments amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Source: Computer Weekly).
  • We are seeing a wave of change across the payments industry, accelerating a transition towards cashless. The research reveals that, as more people are aware of the risks of exchanging cash and touching credit-card terminals, the technology is now thundering into the mainstream across Europe. (Source: Wirecard.com)
  • The acceleration of the cashless society, since the pandemic, has been prompted by evidence that the virus lives on cash.  However, even prior to the pandemic, there were signs that cash was dying out in the UK due to customer preference. (Source: BMM magazine)
  • A cashless society is cheaper (it costs billions every year to distribute notes), more honest (no more tax cheating from cash-in-hand payments) and safer (not much for muggers to steal or for drug dealers to do business in). Above all, it’s just far more convenient. (Source: The Guardian)


Planet Vending’s Cashless Payment archive is HERE

More on Vianet HERE













About the author

The Editor

Planet Vending’s Editor is Ian Reynolds-Young and it’s Ian’s unique writing talent that has made PV what it is today – the best read (red) vending blog in the world, and vending’s best read (reed). Ian ‘tripped and fell into vending’, in the capacity of PR executive, before launching a specialist agency, ‘reynoldscopy’, dedicated to the UK Vending business. The company continues to represent the interests of many of the sector’s leading brands.

‘It’s all about telling stories’, he says. ‘We want to make every visit to PV a rewarding experience. By celebrating the achievements of the UK’s operating companies, we’re on a mission to debunk the idea that vending is retailing’s poor relation.’

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