The pandemic is forcing many businesses to reinvent themselves. Working from home or WFH has become the new normal; video-conferencing and webinars have replaced ‘traditional’ meetings; retailers have introduced social distancing, one-way lanes, plexiglass barriers. Restaurants have turned into take-aways and or delivery services. Reuters reports that an Oregon strip-club has evolved into a drive-through take-away, featuring exotic dancers.
The crisis has also spurred innovation in the cash cycle as social distancing, confinement policies and shop closures have led to the design of new ways to distribute cash.
In India, several banks, including Indian Bank and ICICI Bank, have launched mobile ATM services. The mobile vans carrying the ATMs moves around the city and remain in place for a specific period. The initiative provides cash services while eliminating potential risks due to travelling.
Also, in India, the government of Tamil Nadu has been distributing cash along with essential food items to assist the poor during the 21-day nationwide lockdown. The beneficiaries include pavement vendors, construction workers and other workers in the informal sector.
In South Africa, the Post Office (SAPO) is planning the roll-out of 10,000 “cashless ATMs” in spaza (informal) shops. Grant recipients insert their card at the cashless ATM and receive a slip which can be used either to buy goods from the shop or to obtain cash. A pilot is taking place in 40 locations in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
In the UK, the Post Office is extending its Payout Now scheme which enables people who cannot leave home to ask a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash at any Post Office using a single-use voucher. The scheme is open to all banks, building societies and credit unions.
In Kuwait, Burgan Bank is providing door-to-door cash delivery service to its elderly, special needs, and Premier Banking customers. In India, State Bank of India and cash and payment service provider CMS are offering similar services.
My personal favourite is my local bakery, which have designed the perfect contactless cash payment process. The customer deposits money into a tray on the counter. The change is returned in a separate tray, avoiding any physical contact. Most importantly, it’s done with a smile.