Are Cash Recyclers the First or Last Step in Branch Design?
Often, teller cash recyclers are one of the last considerations when remodeling or designing new branches. But should they be? When is the best time to think about cash automation? At the beginning, of course — during the earliest stages of branch design.
It sounds so logical but here's the problem. Branches have long been designed to secure cash and support manual cash operations. Addressing these problems has always been central to branch design.
Cash automation is a complete paradigm shift.
It resolves the problems with cash and fundamentally changes everything you know about cash handling and cash operations in the branch.
A New Cash Paradigm
Every policy, every labor-intensive process and procedure around cash exists to keep cash secure and ensure counting accuracy. Think about the following design elements for instance:
- Teller lines create a physical barrier between customers and cash
- Tall counters keep exposed cash out of sight
- Formal interiors and finishes project stability and security
But cash automation resolves many of the problems with cash. Issues that limit branch design options. How, exactly?
Recyclers store cash in a secure, rated safe, right at the teller workstation. Cash isn't visible to customers or readily accessible to tellers. In fact, tellers can only activate dispenses and deposits using software commands.
Everything about a cash drawer is manual; from counting drawer transactions in and out to manually entering the amounts into teller software. Because a recycler is a software-driven device, it records every cash transaction.
It's easy to underestimate this key difference between recyclers and cash drawers; to focus only on how recyclers automate manual cash tasks. But it's important to understand that recyclers also automate accountability and create a whole new layer of security.
These two features, secure storage and a transaction record, have a huge impact on time-consuming, labor-intensive processes like dual control, drawer balancing and vault buys and sells. The electronic record is a level of accountability that allows the recycler to act as the second control in dual control transactions. That means managers and supervisors don't get pulled away from more valuable work for dual custody.
Tellers don't need to manage drawer limits and rarely need to interrupt their work to do vault buys and sells because a recycler is a secure vault with a larger bill capacity than a cash drawer. And recyclers stay in balance automatically so tellers don't have to.
This is all to say that when cash is so completely secured at the point of use, security doesn't need to dictate where tellers work or even the style of their workstations. Tellers can be wherever banks want them to be and where customers need them.
Tellers perform every single cash procedure — counting, recounting, sorting, facing, orienting, strapping and detecting counterfeits —for accurate cash counting. Recyclers perform every one of these same cash procedures faster and more accurately than a teller.
But how does that affect branch design? It's a more subtle difference. Automation changes the nature of a teller's work and the teller/customer interaction. It reduces the pressure around cash accuracy. Tellers aren't preoccupied with cash (or mistakes) so they can focus on customers.
Design an Experience
Branch design should be about the customer. How can you better serve your customers? Cash automation gives you the security and accountability you need to design the experience from the time customers walk through the door, at every point, every moment, every interaction:
- What do they see?
- What do they feel?
- How will they be approached?
- How will they be serviced?
- What will be the teller's primary purpose?
These are the kind of questions you can ask when cash is no longer an issue. When you can approach branch design at the most fundamental level. Thinking from a cash automation perspective can inform early logistical planning and design when possible but it can also influence a branch redesign or retrofit.