In-store ATMs dispense cards–not cash–to make purchases

"Cash is dirty," said one restaurant owner.

Joshua Young North Carolina

Many restaurants and stores are moving to cashless purchases and have begun installing cash-to-card kiosks, or reverse ATMs, so that customers can insert cash into the machine which then dispenses a card they must use at that store, much like the commerce model of Dave & Busters.

According to the New York Post, the founder of the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop in New York City, Stratis Morfogen, said, "Cash is dirty. We realized this during the pandemic. And it’s also not safe for our staff to have cash registers filled with cash. When you carry cash, you are a target for criminals, and I’m not comfortable having my staff with cash."

Morfogen is working to bring machines from company ReverseATM to his restaurants. That company's cash-to-card kiosks do not charge a fee and dispense an "open loop" debit card, which can be used at any location that accepts MasterCard or Visa.

There is also Toronto-based Wavetec, who sells kiosks under the brand Azimut. Axios reports, Wavetec business development executive and partner, Naushervan Beg, said, "This is a competitive business."

"Cash carries a lot of friction, right? Many venues are willing to pay for the machines because for them, the bigger pain point is taking the cash," Beg told the outlet.

The lowest price for a machine from Wavetec that a company can buy is $6000. There are additionally ongoing service fees, but costs can be defrayed if they allow advertisements. 

Amusement parks such as Six Flags and Hersheypark have installed cash-to-card kiosks as have National Football League and Major League Baseball stadiums.

"If I tell you your cash is no longer good and you have to go to the machine and convert it to cards, the experience has to be good. In the two-hour window you have to watch a game, you have added a few minutes," Beg said.

The use of reverse ATMs reflects a trend of stores and restaurants going cashless and only accepting credit or debit cards. One challenge of that move has been accommodating the 4.5 percent of Americans who do not have bank accounts. Some states and cities are pushing legislation that would ban companies from not accepting cash as a response. Cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New York mandate merchants accept cash, along with the states of Colorado and New Jersey. 

The move to cashless purchases increased significantly during the Covid epidemic.


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