pile of cash Source: Shutterstock.

A leading advocate for the ATM industry is outlining a broad “cash revival plan” to help combat the downturn tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

Statewide closure orders and broad efforts to minimize physical contact hit the ATM industry hard, and the advocacy group ATMIA said it will initiate a set of plans—focused on money and machines—to bolster and promote consumer use of cash.

Mike Lee, chief executive officer of ATMIA, said the cash revival plan will address, among other things, “increasing the competitiveness of cash as a payment method by improving cash management and logistics.”

“To revive cash use, we will continue our cashless bans campaign to ensure mandatory acceptance of cash at retail outlets in markets such as the USA, Europe, Canada, UK and Australia,” Lee said in a statement. “We will aim to make the deposit of cash (notes and coins) at ATMs as accessible as possible, while conducting some much-needed PR on the top values of cash, including its role in financial inclusion, household budgeting and its popularity across several demographic groups.”

ATMIA said the cash plan would also focus on improving “cash management and logistics to reduce costs.” The greater “use of strong software is vital to reduce cost impact of any future virus lockdowns, and handle what might be a gradual and/or unpredictable return to normal usage,” the group said in outlining the plan.

The advocacy group’s revival plan for ATMs “will include a global protocol for ATM hygiene for what we believe will be a hygiene-conscious society after COVID-19,” said Lee, chairman of the Consortium for Next Gen ATMs.

Lee said more than 330 companies are participating in the consortium, which is putting together “an online self-certification system for certifying globally interoperable API APP ATMs to move ATMs into next gen capability for the mobile-digital world and the coming Internet of Things.”

A recent ATMIA survey showed just how widespread the coronavirus pandemic had impacted the ATM industry. Nearly half of the respondents said they’ve been able to operate only 75% of their machines during the pandemic. Lee said at the time that COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions “have created a very difficult business environment.”