Cash set for gold at the Olympic Games (blog)

Rio de Janeiro during sunset showing houses in a valley with Christ the redeemer on the right

In this guest blog, Micki Nguyen, director of Product Management, Cash & Logistics, Fiserv, talks about the importance of having a reliable cash strategy during mass sporting events such as the Rio Olympics. 

Despite a constantly evolving payments landscape as digital and technology continue to grow, cash remains the leading payment method around the globe. In fact, cash transactions make up 85 percent of all payment transactions made across the world, according to MasterCard. Therefore, ahead of mass sporting events such as the imminent Rio Olympics in Brazil, it is essential that a reliable cash strategy is implemented in the country.


‘Preparation, communication, cooperation’

Thousands of people are expected to descend on to Rio for the games, which will greatly impact its resources. Large-scale sporting events put a great amount of pressure on a wide range of public services, so it is imperative that there is sufficient infrastructure to manage the influx of people and consequent spike in cash usage. Cash remains a convenient and flexible payment method making it a popular choice for large events, therefore ATM service providers, banks and others in the supply chain must endeavour to work together to meet and manage this demand.

The 2016 Olympics in Rio must follow and build on the careful preparation, communication and cooperation that were key to the success of the Games four years ago in London. Brazil is home to one of the largest ATM networks with 160,000 ATMS and by working in collaboration with one another, Banks and ATM deployers can ensure that these are managed efficiently, and that there is sufficient cash available to meet consumer demand across the whole event.


‘Empty cash machines create negative brand experiences’

In today’s society customers demand access to their money wherever and whenever they want. Expectations have changed with customers requesting services that integrate seamlessly into their everyday lives. When it comes to cash, expectations are no different. Financial Institutions (FIs) must make sure that there is sufficient cash available in all cash points – including branches, vaults, ATMs and other automated devices.

For the Olympic Games in Rio to be remembered as a success, Brazil must integrate technology to help them to predict currency levels, monitor self-service devices and track cash usage. The increase in cash demand and usage must be closely and accurately monitored, and FIs must take appropriate action when necessary to manage the reputational risk that could come should there not be enough cash. Empty cash machines create a negative brand experience and customers are inconvenienced; both of which could damage the legacy of the Games.

Maintaining, or indeed increasing, customer satisfaction and reducing operational costs and risks at the Olympics are two of the most important factors for this to be considered a triumph; successfully deploying a thorough and integrated cash management and device strategy is essential. Institutions that are able to quickly resolve problems in real-time stand a better chance of avoiding customer disappointment, and speed of response will inevitably be front of mind for FIs during the Olympics.


Cash is simple, that’s why it’s dominant

Visitors also have a role to play in the success of the payment infrastructure that is implemented. Cash usage is particularly high in Brazil. Boa Vista released data that showed 65% of Brazilians still prefer to pay with cash over other payment methods, while 70% still do not have a bank account. Local food vendors, taxi drivers and other businesses in and around Rio will only deal with cash, and having enough Brazilian Real to ensure payments can be made is incredibly important for fans to get the most out of the Games.

The reliability and simplicity of cash ensures that it remains dominant, despite advancements in the payments landscape. Implementing the correct cash and currency strategies are vital to meet the expectations of the visitors to Rio. Banks and FIs must be ready for the spike in demand for cash and manage its usage, as well as ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to process the cash once transactions have taken place. Developing a reliable and efficient cash and logistics model is essential in rendering the Games a success. As long as all sporting fans have access to their money when and where they need it, their Olympic experience will be one they will never forget.


Micki Nguyen is the director of Product Management, Cash & Logistics, at Fiserv

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