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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Cash is king, even as ATM growth slackens

Despite predictions to the contrary, cash remains a staple if the American consumer's payment choices. That's an underlying message gleaned from the 2018 Health of Cash Study, prepared by Cardtronics.

Separately, a new report by the strategic research and consulting firm RBR predicts a decline in worldwide ATM installations over the next several years as Chinese consumers' growing adoption of digital payments contracts demands there for cash. According to RBR's Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2023, the worldwide installed base of ATMs peaked at 3.28 million in 2017 and will drop to 3.23 million by the end of 2023.

China is by far the largest ATM market, with nearly a quarter of the all installed ATMs, the RBR report noted. But that market began to contract in 2017, when deployers shuttered 20,000 ATMs. "China's burgeoning middle class has embraced digital payments enthusiastically, and as demand for cash falls the number of ATMs in the country is expected to continue dropping," RBR said in a statement on the study.

Nevertheless, cash usage remains strong in many parts of the world, including Asian, Middle Eastern and African markets, RBR stated. In fact, if China is excluded from its calculations, RBR said, worldwide ATM totals will grow, from 2.5 million to 2.7 million by 2023. "Convenient access to cash remains a priority for a great many customers around the world, and ATMs will continue to be a key cash delivery channel in the years to come," said Rowan Berridge, the RBR executive who led the market and forecasts research.

Consumers like choices

Results of the Cardtronics study seem to back up this assertion. It found, for example, that 72 percent of U.S. consumers use cash regularly, and almost half (46 percent) said they would stop going to a store or restaurant they like if the establishment stopped accepting cash payments. Overall, cash is the second most preferred method of payment (cited by 28 percent of consumers surveyed by Cardtronics), behind debit cards (37 percent) but ahead of credit cards (20 percent) and digital wallets (13 percent).

"The primary conclusions for the Health of Cash Study are that U.S. consumers do not want to be told how they should pay for things and services they acquire," said Brian Bailey, executive vice president and managing director of Cardtronics North America. "In looking at their payment options, consumers see unique benefits in cash as more than just a store of value – they consider cash to be an important part of their social safety net, a critical tool in emergencies."

Consumer preferences don't seem to be dictated by geography either. Ninety-four percent of urban residents and 93 percent of rural residents said they like having a variety of payment options available. Seventy-one percent of urban residents and 67 percent of their rural counterparts indicated they are using a greater number of payment methods today than in times past.

Payment preferences can be influenced by situations, however. Cash, for example, is far and away the most preferred method for leaving tips, impulse purchases, buying snacks and paying/receiving money from family and friends. On the other hand, consumers told Cardtronics they are more apt to use credit and debit cards when purchasing expensive items and gasoline. end of article

Editor's Note:

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