The term CashTech refers to the encounter of cash and technology. CashTech gathers companies which leverage software and communications technology to provide improved cash services – including access to cash and acceptance of cash payments – as well as to enhance the efficiency of the cash cycle.
Sandipan Charkraborty is the founder of Sonect, founded in 2016 in Switzerland. As a former banker, Sandipan has seen very closely how expensive cash handling could be and how difficult it could be to access cash in developed countries.
The mission of Sonect is to optimise the global $350 billion cost of cash. Sonect has developed the concept of virtual ATMs, a location-based match-making platform which connect those who want to deposit and those who want to withdraw cash. The solution is based on an app. The user connects using PSD 2 open APIs and requests an amount to withdraw. The app generates a barcode and performs a geo-location-based search to display the nearby shops able to provide the cash. The cashier scans the barcode and the transaction is settled and the cash can be handed over. Today, Sonect has become the single largest ATM network in Switzerland and is planning to expand internationally in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Mexico. Sonect is also launching additional services including full-scale decentralized cash-deposit solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Chris Forero-Slee is the founder of Shrap, a UK-based company which aims to use technology to support cash rather than replace it. For Chris, the whole approach to cash needs to change if it is to survive. Shrap proposes to digitise coins as they are the most inconvenient and inefficient element of the transaction.
The biggest threat to cash is its continued acceptance by businesses. It is all well and good improving access to cash but if there is nowhere to spend it, there is no point. A growing number of businesses are removing cash as a payment option and this has worsened following the recent attacks on cash by the media, over the misrepresentation of WHO data about the hygiene of cash. This has damaged the perception of cash in the minds of many people.
Shrap is the digital alternative to coins. The solution allows people to pay in cash and for merchants to receive payment and return change for low-value transactions free of charge, conveniently and anonymously. The solution is based on an app or a physical card. There are two types of accounts: business accounts for verified business and personal accounts which are anonymous and only require an e-mail or phone number. The businesses hold a digital float on the Shrap platform which allows them to issue change electronically when a customer makes a purchase in cash. All transactions are free with the exception of transfer of the balance onto an account which incurs a fixed fee.
Hari Sivan is the founder of Socash, a Singapore-based start-up which is building Asia’s largest distribution network for cash. In Asia, half a billion are rising out of poverty and starting out on the consumption journey. The value-chain is very much based-on cash. Cash demand is growing with GDP and there is a huge opportunity for Socash to tap into this demand.
Socash have customised the ‘cashback framework’ which is prevalent in many countries, to enable any shop with a banking relationship to become a bank touchpoint. This creates a banking marketplace, which runs on variable costs is self-scaling and responsive. The key benefits to the industry are this marketplace approach where the costs are variable and typically diminishing, similarily to what has occurred in other industries such as telco, transport or logistics. Socash have integrated some leading banks in the region as well as different payment modes.
Andreas Veller is the Managing Director of Barzahlen, founded in 2011 in Germany and which has been expanding in Europe under the brand name Viacash. Viacash strongly believes that cash will always play an important role in society: cash is printed freedom; it facilitates budget control, preserves privacy and drives financial inclusion. Viacash aims to make cash more convenient, accessible and efficient.
Viacash digitally connects retailers – which constitute the cash-in and cash-out infrastructure – with corporations that want to execute cash transactions with their customers. Viacash has developed a portfolio of products which include deposits and withdrawals from bank accounts, bill payments and payments of online purchases. The network currently represents 16,000 points of sales in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy and the goal is to establish a European network.
During the webinar, participants were invited to indicate which organisations they believed will be the main innovators in the cash cycle. 64% responded that start-ups and scale-ups drive innovation, well ahead of cash management companies and hard or software vendors.
The emergence of CashTech is undoubtedly an indicator of the dynamism of the cash industry. The four companies on the webinar have in common the aim to make the cash cycle more efficient. To do this they propose to leverage existing infrastructure and increase the circulation of cash between those who need it retailers and consumers. They also show that cash is perfectly suited for the digital word and that digital technology can contribute to its efficiency. Lastly, CashTech shows that cash is not only important for the unbanked, the elderly and the marginalized. Cash is an important mainstream payment and monetary instrument.
To download the slidedeck, click here: CashTech Webinar
To view the video replay click here.