Cash as a driver of innovation
Interview with Frédéric Beuve, Director of Global SMARTtill Technology at APG Cash Drawer
During the Equipmag show in Paris in September, iXtenso had the opportunity to speak with Frédéric Beuve, Director of Global SMARTtill Technology at APG Cash Drawer, about his ongoing projects within Europe and his view into the future of payment solutions. As a born Frenchman with both technical and professional degrees. Mr Beuve has resided in the UK for the past 25 years, and as such, offers a deep pan-European background and understanding of payment systems and cash management.
The retailing media likes to look over the horizon and can lose sight of the fundamentals. Is cash payment one of these?
Don’t take it personally, but ‘yes’! Cash is still the dominant payment method and the use of cash is still widespread in most of the euro zone countries. According to the European Central Bank, in 2016, 79 percent of all transactions were carried out using cash with 80 percent in Germany, 68 percent in France and 87 percent in Spain.The most recent global study from the trade group ‘Currency Research’ indicated that cash in circulation continues to grow by 5 percent annually. The acceleration of growth in cash volume might be declining in some countries, but nonetheless it continues to grow globally. This is where we do sometimes get ahead of ourselves in search of the next trend. Online transactions and contactless payments might be on the rise but cash is not disappearing anytime soon.
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Cash payments do, however, present specific challenges for both consumers and retailers. What do you offer to mitigate these?
We offer solutions such as the SMARTtill Cash Management Solution, an intelligent cash drawer which counts coins and notes at the time of transaction offering cash visibility at the POS. It enables cashiers to start serving their customers without the need to count their float; reducing the time consumers must wait at the till. Cash is managed more efficiently, ensuring that there is always enough cash and the right denominations in the float to give customers their change.
Intelligent cash handling solutions increases a retailer’s productivity and provides employees confidence that each cash exchange was accurate and therefore to end on a positive note every shift. They deliver well wishes to colleagues instead of explaining discrepancies in their cash count to managers. The positive experience of each individual shopper is the outcome.
Customers can also make mistakes as any cashier knows. When a customer challenges a cash exchange, store colleagues can now investigate without the need to count the cash and stop trading at the POS. The cash movement for each transaction can be viewed instantly, transparently and remotely, enabling fast reconciliation and speedy customer service. This builds trust and loyalty.
APG also partners with back office and analytic software solution providers who are experts in data reporting, data alerting, cash banking, securing and providing provisional credit - enabling retailers to have instant access to their money and data reconciliation. The SMARTtill Solution does indeed provide most of the benefits of closed cash handling systems without the burden of the checkout modifications, upfront and service costs.
How big of a problem is cash loss?
Retailers are uneasy to report their real cash losses, which is understandable. It is always a bigger figure than what is set in the KPI of a trial, without a doubt. It depends on the size of the business and the percentage of cash transactions.According to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which carried out a survey in the UK in 2017, the total cost of loss in this sector, alone, is £23 million, and £1214 is the cost per staff theft incident. That’s why you can see the spark in our customers’ eyes when you mention that the SMARTtill Solution can reduce up to 90 percent of their cash losses. We’re talking about real money and real pain here for most stores.
The benefits go beyond cash loss and can also include significant operational savings as well.Intelligent cash handling solutions enable retailers to streamline their cash handling processes, reducing the cost of counting cash by being more proficient and, as a consequence, enables retailers to identify and manage cash losses instantly. What we have found is that our intelligent cash drawer solution combined with “small” intelligent safes at the point of sale do provide further cash loss savings at a fraction of the required investment for “bigger” automated closed loop systems.
The SMARTtill Solution acts as a deterrent factor. It creates a better trusted working environment for users, enables a gain in confidence in handling cash transactions but also provides reassurances to consumers that their cash is handled correctly at the POS.
Back to that ‘horizon’... as an industry expert, where do you see payment solutions within the retail sector over the next decade?
In our industry, I suspect that mobility will be disruptive and mobile payment terminals will grow. Which is why we launched our IP SMARTtill Solution at NRF this year. It enables multiple mobile POS and therefore cashiers to accept cash payments at one single payment point while benefiting from the productivity savings associated with not having to count the cash float. Especially in fashion, the division between sales-floor associate and cashier are disappearing, this system allows an associate who actively engages the customer to continue right through to payment by not being tethered to a single, stationary POS somewhere else in the store.
I expect cash to remain a strong global method of payment; a method that consumers continue to trust and will continue to use. In most cases, I would rather have cash in my pocket than a credit card. Electronic payments are subject to fraud which is a concern whereas cash is real – you can touch and feel the value of money, the best material to make you understand the value of it.