Click and collect your CASH: As ATMs and banks disappear, ‘ordering’ money on a free app and withdrawing it at the newsagent could be the future
- New app Sonect could allow customers to withdraw their cash from local shops
- It uses the same technology as paying out lottery winnings
- Some 95% of the UK population live within one mile of a lottery terminal
- In Italy, 35,000 shops will offer cash withdrawals via Sonect later this year
Britons who have lost their local bank branch or cash machine may soon be able to get hold of their money at their nearest corner shop, thanks to the UK’s first ‘Click & Collect’ cash service.
Using the same technology retailers use to pay out lottery winnings, financial platform Sonect wants to to enable them to also give the public free access to their cash.
It runs on a location-based app, which connects shops with cash to people who need it, by matching demand for cash withdrawals with the cash in shop tills.
Sonect’s deal with Lottomatica and BNL Bank in Italy will enable 35,000 Italian lottery terminals to offer cash withdrawals later this year
Italian shoppers are set to start withdrawing money in this way later this year, as Sonect is under contract to enable 35,000 Italian lottery terminals to offer free cash.
With 95 per cent of the UK population living within one mile of a lottery terminal, Sonect says it can help solve the ‘access to cash crisis’ in the UK.
Bank branches and free-to-use cash machines have been disappearing from Britain’s high streets at a record pace in recent years.
Since January 2015, bank branches have been closing at a rate of 50 each month, according to the Consumer Champion Which?, and a total of 4,299 have shut their doors during that time.
With over 500 closures since the pandemic alone, and ATMs reducing from a peak of around 71,000 in 2015 to 54,000 in 2020 according to Government figures, convenient access to cash is on a steep decline.
Almost two thirds of the industry’s top executives think branch-based lenders will be ‘dead’ in the next five years, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit for financial software company Temenos.
Sonect intends to turn cash registers into ATMs, using the existing point of sale system or any smartphone to localise the processing of cash
But while the use of physical money is declining, millions of Britons still rely on cash, particularly the elderly.
Around 2.4 million people aged 65 and over rely on cash to a large extent in their day-to-day life, according to data from the Financial Conduct Authority.
Sonect is a location-based app, connecting shops with cash to people who need it
According to a recent survey, nearly three-quarters of over-65s, around 8.8 million people, had used cash at some point in the past month. Two-thirds of under-65s, or around 25 million adults, had also done so within that time.
Sonect has been piloting its cash scheme in Burslem and Tunstall in Stoke-on-Trent, and says hundreds of residents have signed up in the past two months.
In these towns, it says both the public and its retailers are already enjoying the convenience of cash circulating locally free of charge.
Tony Riaz, who runs a One Stop in Burslem said: ‘This lottery terminal solution sounds like a no-brainer to me – I already know my customers would love the speed and convenience of getting some cash at the same time as their lottery tickets.
‘A simple idea like this would be perfect for guaranteeing a free access to cash solution in the UK.’
The app will allow residents to pick up money from a range of participating stores, but Sonect say that around 45,000 brand-new terminals will need to be installed to guarantee free access to cash nationwide.
Ron Delnevo, UK director of Sonect said: ‘In the UK we’re under-utilising the potential of modern lottery terminals to provide a wide-range of services to customers of community retailers.
‘The terminals can become a vital convenient local touch-point for access to cash, and other services the public have a right to expect on their doorsteps.
‘We really need to seize this technical innovation opportunity in the UK to support all the local needs of the public and the retailers who serve them and, critically, to solve the huge access to cash crisis.’
How does the Sonect app work?
The Sonect app allows money to be stored securely in a digital wallet, which can be topped up in less than a minute using a debit card, credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
In the UK, cash can be withdrawn through the Sonect app on a smartphone with no charge.
Customer will need to:
1. Find the nearest participating retailer
2. Select the amount to withdraw
3. Confirm the withdrawal – even before leaving home, if they wish
4. Show the barcode on the app at the till of their chosen retailer and receive their cash