Allpoint Blog

Why Financial Inclusion Means Increasing Access to Cash

Across the United States, millions of people struggle to achieve financial security every day. Initiatives that show how financial uncertainty impairs low- and moderate-income people, such as The Wall Street Journal’s Financial Inclusion Challenge, are crucial for raising awareness and encouraging for-profit and nonprofit enterprises to work to improve the financial health of such individuals.

Financial inclusion is a challenge impacting millions of Americans and many more around the world. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 7 percent of U.S. households – roughly 9 million – were “unbanked” in 2015, meaning no one in the household had a checking or savings account, and another 19.9 percent, or 24.5 million households, were “underbanked,” meaning that they held an account at a secured financial institution but also obtained financial services and products outside the traditional banking system.

As the PYMNTS Global Cash Index shows, overall cash use is rising in many global markets as economic growth improves and consumer spending increases. In line with these findings, Retail Banking Research highlights that financial inclusion is a key factor in the trend of rising ATM withdrawals.

Cash plays an important role in the day-to-day lives of many – especially the unbanked and underbanked. For instance, many underbanked households use cash to pay bills, as reported by the FDIC. The ATM Industry Association has been brainstorming ways that ATMs can be enhanced to help these households – including sending money to someone, paying bills and loading a portion of a check onto a prepaid card. Already, ATMs can accept mixed-media deposits, handle money transfers and furnish on-screen video connections to remote tellers. The critical connection point of the ATM allows cash to move freely between the digital and physical worlds, enabling payment choice and inclusion.

A study by PYMNTS about cash use in Mexico’s economy spotlighted the outsized role cash plays in the country, where roughly 90 percent of the population prefers to make payments with cash. Retailers there understand how essential it is to accept cash for payment. As a result, big retailers such as Walmart and Amazon are introducing hybrid payment systems that accommodate cash-based transactions for online purchases. Consumers can also pick up their online orders at convenience stores, pharmacies and banks and pay with cash. Other companies offer cash on demand or prepaid methods that allow shoppers to receive home delivery on their orders. Enabling a digital commerce to cash connection enhances consumer choice and financial inclusion.

Very simply, cash is the most universal and easily-understood method of payment, and continues to be the payment method that anyone can use at practically any time. A cashless society isolates the unbanked and underbanked, removes choice for everyone and concentrates power over payments in the hands of a select few.

Cash matters to people throughout the economy, for everything from sending a birthday gift to tipping a bellman to purchasing a latte at a street cart.  But much more than a convenience, cash is absolutely critical to the unbanked and underbanked whose financial lives are centered on it. Cardtronics believes in financial inclusion, in providing the cash consumers need where and when they need it most. At Cardtronics we are Champions of Cash… because it matters.

Joel Antonini
Senior Vice President – Marketing 

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