During the circle17 impactathon, startups and university students joined forces with OeNPAY and the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) to explore innovative approaches to cash logistics that are sustainable and have a regional focus.
Cash is still the most popular means of payment in Austria. In retail transactions, it is used less frequently than before, though. In light of declining cash transactions and the constantly shrinking bank branch network (and its cash services), both trading companies and financial institutions in Austria are faced with a key challenge: how to ensure the supply and distribution of cash throughout the country in the long run.
OeNPAY and the OeNB launched a joint initiative on cash innovation at circle17, a program launched by two nonprofit organizations, AustrianStartups and respACT, in an effort to help implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The participants of the circle17 impactathon were asked to develop innovative solutions for the following task: How can we ensure access to cash in rural regions and promote a regional cash cycle?
A new approach to cash logistics is required to accommodate changes in payment habits and banking infrastructure. Regional and sustainable solutions are the highest priority.
“Supplying Austrians with euro cash is one of the OeNB’s core tasks,” says Matthias Schroth, Director of the OeNB’s Cash Management, Equity Interests and Internal Services Department. “With the circle17 impactathon, we are challenging around 130 participating startups and university students to come up with future-proof, seamless and sustainable cash logistics solutions.”
circle17 impactathon innovator Manuel Hartl convinced the jury with his idea of integrating cash logistics into existing regional infrastructures: By providing secure cash withdrawal services, local businesses (such as small grocers, diners or tobacconists) would support the seamless supply of cash to consumers across the country. Hartl proposes a simple-to-use and secure app for this purpose.
In addition to ensuring cash supply at the regional level, the idea would also benefit local businesses: “Cash services are certain to attract customers to the store,” says OeNPAY Managing Director Bernhard Krick, “and businesses that offer them can reduce their cash holdings in a simple and secure manner and save money on cash collection services.”