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ATMs remain important to society as cash flourishes

ATMs will remain important as cash continues to be king.

Cash remains a critical aspect of human society, and ATMs are a valuable tool in that respect. With the ability to withdraw cash at any time at a variety of locations, people have a greater degree of mobility and freedom in how they shop for and purchase goods. These developments are important, as they help strengthen the local and national economy while giving consumers greater say on what they do and where they go. As ATMs add more features, they become more valuable, essentially serving as replacement banks for many who use them.

Cash urban legends don't dissuade ATM use

There are many myths about cash that either discourage people from using it or present the idea that a cashless society is just around the corner. However, as consulting firm Currency Research discusses in its "The Case for Cash" survey, many of the claimed facts outlined by various sources are either false or misleading. The most common of these is that cash is expensive because it's more transient in nature and thus vulnerable to theft. However, studies from various sources including the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve indicate the social costs of cash are often the lowest and usually cheaper than using credit or debit cards.

The Case for Cash notes that claims of a near-future cashless society have been ongoing since as early as 1968. However, studies indicated that cash use would only increase over the next decade. Even credit card networks such as MasterCard acknowledge the continued existence of cash. More importantly, banknote circulation has continued to increase in various countries with a sound currency such as the U.S. and the United Kingdom. There is no better indication that cash is here to stay.

One major myth that stands out is the belief that consumers continue to prefer credit and debit cards over cash at major retailers. However, a combination of recent data breaches, movements by major retailers and a few lawsuits indicate that stores all but embrace cash over cards. Finally, the myths that Bitcoin or mobile devices will replace paper currency perpetuate in recent years. This is far-fetched at best, as Bitcoin is a deliberately unstable currency, and mobile payments have only increased cash usage in areas where they are successful.

With all these busted myths in mind, cash is here to stay. ATMs will serve as a valuable pillar for the use of cash due to the convenience of withdrawals anywhere at any time.

October 7, 2015