Parts of Britain have become or are at risk of becoming deserts. And no, we’re not talking about the latest environmental crisis to befall the planet.
UK communities - many of which rely on domestic and international tourism - have become “cash deserts”. That is, towns, villages and even cities, where there is a total absence or a worrying scarcity of ATMs.
Surprisingly, global destinations such as Glasgow and Birmingham are deemed at risk.
Earlier this year, consumer group Which? conducted an impressive piece of research on ATM availability.
It revealed that 123 postcode areas did not have a cashpoint and a further 116 postcodes only had one machine, of which 37 charged a fee.
Experts fear one in 10 towns could soon be without a cashpoint as banks close rural branches and add pressure to cut the fee they pay to ATM operators for transactions.
What does this mean for tourism revenue?
Juxtapose Which?’s research with tourist data from Visit Britain and it becomes clear that many communities are likely to be missing out on vital income.
In 2017, there were 39.2m inbound visitors to the UK, spending a massive £24.5bn - an annual increase of 9%, according to the national tourism agency.
Whilst half of these visitors opted for London, millions more went to Scotland, the West Midlands, North West, Yorkshire and the South West, spending £11bn across the UK last year.
But how many tourists decided not to make a purchase from a small business because they were unable to access cash?
And what about local folk such as the elderly or those on low incomes, who are dependent on cash?
We may never know the answers but we can say for certain that cash is valued by many people and is the lifeblood of small businesses the land over. Although in decline, around 40% of consumer payments are still made in notes and coins.
How do we eliminate cash deserts?
Well, where there’s a crisis there’s also an opportunity for a solution.
Bank-run ATMs might be dwindling but independent ATM deployer (IAD)s can thrive in rural and urban locations, offering local residents and visitors a much-needed service.
Indeed, innovators are stepping in to fill the void. Take, for example, one of our partners IN2Retail.
This dynamic Netherlands-based IAD is expanding across Ireland with a profitable business model that thrives on screen and receipt advertising and partnerships, rather than fees paid by banks for transactions.
It’s also developing an outsourcing ATM service for banks, helping them to serve communities where a branch presence is no longer possible.
A rapid route to market for IADs
Additionally, IADs can stay lean by opting for BIN Sponsorship, as offered by CashFlows, as opposed to card scheme membership. It’s a cost-effective solution and appeals to IADs of all sizes.
How it works is simple. CashFlows is able to provide a card scheme-assigned bank identification number (BIN), enabling IADs to process payments through that scheme without the hassle and expense of joining directly.
Crucially, BIN Sponsorship drastically reduces time-to-market and is great news for firms looking to be the first to open in an area classified as a “cash desert”.
ATM numbers in many areas might be in decline, but it doesn’t need to be a permanent trend.
To understand more about BIN Sponsorship or becoming an IAD contact Cashflows today.