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Smart safes, cash recyclers boon for banks and retailers

October 10, 2022

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Have you ever tired of counting cash at the end of the day, then storing large sums in the backroom safe or driving it over the bank yourself? If so, then you know the common nuisance faced by nearly all retailers across the country.

But thankfully, a better way to handle cash is catching on, due in part to the benefits afforded to both retailers and financial institutions. That “better way” is smart safes and cash recyclers, two tech tools that are part of a growing trend in more efficient, safer cash handling.

What are smart safes and cash recyclers?
Smart safes and cash recyclers, while they offer similar functions, actually serve two different purposes.

“Cash handling tools are catching on among retailers.”

Let’s first look at smart safes. These devices are what they sound like – safes – but with a few added features. Smart safes are connected to the Internet, so any deposit is immediately tallied and recorded, both for the retailer and the bank. At the same time, the deposit is credited to the account holder, so the money is available even before the physical bills are transported to the bank. Smart safes can be stored at the point of sale, if need be, to facilitate the cash handling process.

Next up are cash recyclers. These devices also store cash, but they offer different functions. For example, cash recyclers allow withdrawals to be made, so employees can prepare registers as needed. Each deposit and withdrawal is also logged for easy reference at the end of the day.

New tech catches on with banks, retailers
As awareness of these two tech tools grows, many banks and retailers are incorporating them into their businesses.

According to American Banker, a number of financial institutions are actually increasing the size of their smart safe services, in order to attract more retailers. Banks can connect smart safes to their accounts, so any account holder can purchase a safe for use in their own store, creating an automatic link between their cash and their bank.

Furthermore, the desire of consumers to use cash – and the rising costs of cash handling for retailers – has many looking for a solution.

“The marginal cost of handling cash is only going up,” John Bultema, head of treasury management at Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp, told American Banker. “So why spend that time – that unproductive time – having valuable people do low-value-add activity?”

He added that his bank now has as many as 9,000 smart safes with retailers. Popular industries for this technology include restaurants, fast-food chains, grocers, gas stations and box stores, just to name a few.

Technology saves time, money
Installing a cash recycler and smart safe can be a valuable strategy to not just save time, but money as well. And many retailers across the country are starting to see this.

“With better cash handling, employees can focus on more valuable tasks.”

For example, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot. Holmes told the media outlet that the massive retailer is currently using cash recyclers in several locations.

“We’re always looking for efficiencies that remove tasks so we can allot more time for our associates to spend serving customers,” he explained.

As explained to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Federal Reserve analyst Eric Cheng, decreased labor costs and more flexibility among employees are two more perks of cash recyclers and smart safes.

“Automating these [cash-handling] tasks allows merchants to significantly reduce labor and redeploy back-office employees to other areas of the store,” he pointed out.

For retailers who want to improve efficiency, affordability and simplicity, few tools are better than cash recyclers and smart safes.

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