When the promotion of "all digital" is all over the place, how can we continue to serve all those customers for whom the digital transition remains complex and cash a real need.
Ease of access, reliability, speed, the digitalization of services continues to see its benefits highlighted, encouraging everyone to give up cash and the traditional bank branch. We all too often forget that 20% of Belgians do not have access to the internet and that 40% are unable to complete a form on the Internet.
Even if, according to a survey by Febelfin, 89% of Belgians give priority to digital or mobile payments, many people, mostly elderly or socially disadvantaged, see their autonomy reduced by the decreasing number of ATMs (Automated Teller Machine). The structural decrease in the number of bank branches creates "white zones" in which the citizens no longer has easy access to cash. Thus, to date, the inhabitants of more than 400 Belgian municipalities no longer have access to a cash dispenser at a reasonable distance and the new branch closures announced recently by the banks will only worsen this situation. It is necessary today to provide solutions so that digitalisation does not create social exclusion.
What future for cash Vs digital?
It is still too early to ban cash from our daily lives. Luc Vandergoten, President of Agoria Financial Services Technology Club and General Manager of Contrast Consulting has been working with the banking sector for 30 years. "I am the first to promote digital, but I am convinced that cash still has a minimum of 10 or 15 years of life in front of it. I see great opportunities to give a social role to new services for customers who got forgotten by the banking sector.”
If some Belgian municipalities feel left out today and raise a pressing demand for a solution to their citizens, for financial institutions, the management and maintenance of a network of ATMs remains a cost item. While many consider the importance of ATMs to be a preferred channel of communication and service for their customers, banks want to streamline their services. Entrusting this non-strategic channel to a dedicated company could be a solution for banks that no longer want to do it by themselves.
One of the avenues currently being explored is the development of a white label ATM service, financed by several banks. The Netherlands has already taken the step towards this system with the 'Geldmaat'. The three major banks in the country decided to outsource this local service together. This is what the Cash2all initiative in Belgium is proposing today.
Support the digital transition
And if cash and online services could go together in a single service for those customers who are not yet ready for “all digital”? The digital transition could be progressive, without excluding a part of the population and this would bring the entire population into this movement that will probably still take a few years.
Many services to the population, tend nowadays to become exclusively digital. They must find a way to remain accessible to all. Can ATMs be the solution?
Imagine a terminal where you could access, simply with your identity card, your administrative documents, pay in cash your bills, manage your insurance contracts or even buy tickets concerts. All the services of a conventional ATM would be associated with other essential services for the entire population.
Luc Vandergoten, member of the Cash2all Consortium explains that "The Cash2All initiative aims at a global optimization of the ATM network, to ensure a proximity service to the forgotten of the digitalization. Include them in society. Allow them to develop their skills in the digital field, before the leap to the digital world ".
Part of the population is powerless compared to the evolution that is taking digitization today. Contraste and Auriga companies, initiated by the Cash2all project, are also considering access from the kiosk to an operator available to help people use the services of these new generation ATMs.
The bank of tomorrow
Like other sectors, banks have undergone significant changes related to the digital transformation and it is far from over. "Banks are concerned about tomorrow's issues related to virtual currencies, the blockchain or the cloud. Today, they are calling for innovative solutions in these areas”, explains Luc Vandergoten.
Faced with the arrival of pure players of the web, traditional organizations had to rethink their Business Model. To maintain the trust of their customers, they now consider it essential to rely on new criteria such as the ease of access to services and the modernity of the applications made available. The Cash2all initiative could well meet these expectations to give banks, as a bonus, a crucial social role.
Learn more about the Cash2all consortium here :
Learn more about Contraste services for the banking sector