Major sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup often see strains placed on a wide range of public services in the host country. Issues with infrastructure and services are one thing, but the spike in demand for cash often goes unreported. A large proportion of the hundreds of thousands of fans travelling to World Cup venues will desire cash, meaning that banks, ATM service providers and others in the supply chain must all work hard to provide for visitors throughout the event.
Cash remains a key player
Cash continues to play an important role alongside other payment methods, and this is particularly true at major events. This was evident at the London 2012 Olympics where a push towards creating a “cashless” event meant a number of ATMs were not available at Olympic venues. The strategy failed when some venues were left with no cash points at all and when 80,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium had access to only two ATMs and were unable to pay by card.
In Brazil, cash use remains high. Research by Boa Vista showed that 65% of Brazilians prefer to pay with cash as opposed to using other methods and over 70% do not have a bank account. Throughout the World Cup, retail vendors and stadiums hosting matches only accept Visa and cash payments. What’s more taxi drivers and most small businesses in the region only speak the language of cash. Therefore fans must not rely solely on the use of credit cards and make sure they are equipped with Brazilian Real before heading out to support their team of choice.
Cash management for a successful event
As Brazil remains in the spotlight during the final few weeks of the event, it is essential that the cash and logistics infrastructure remains as efficient and safe as possible.
Visitors must be prepared throughout the event so they can enjoy the tournament safely. Fans should be aware of their surroundings when withdrawing cash, checking ATM equipment and the area around ATMs for anything unusual. In this case the widespread adoption of EMV card technology (chip and pin) in Brazil should help to alleviate card fraud risk. ATM connections in the region are improving, but to guarantee compatibility visitors will need to look out for the relevant Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, and Maestro logos.
As fans flock to get their hands on cash during the tournament, banks in the region must also intelligently monitor the increase in demand and react where necessary to avoid the potential reputational risk that could come with running out of cash. With 160,000 ATMs, Brazil has one of the largest ATM networks in the world and while the event is likely to put a strain on this infrastructure, banks must be prepared to respond quickly in this situation.
During other mega events such as the 2012 London Olympics intelligent planning, communication and collaboration were essential to ensure UK banks developed cash management strategies to meet the unprecedented challenges of providing cash to the patrons of the event. For the next month of the World Cup, getting cash to customers at the right time and to the right places requires collaborative cash forecasting and risk management strategies among banks and service providers.
Prior to the tournament, there was a great deal of media focus on the potential for criminal activity around the event, meaning that suppliers of cash should consider security very carefully. Methods such as scheduling deliveries to take place at night can enhance security and reduce the risk of criminals taking advantage of predictable cash travel times.
As the World Cup progresses and with the 2016 Rio Olympics approaching, banks need to ensure they are monitoring the demand for cash and supporting the cash and logistics supply chain as efficiently as possible. Lessons may be learnt from the cash and device management strategies already in place to make sure that fans can access cash no matter when or where they are in Brazil. With this in mind, visitors currently soaking up the atmosphere in Brazil should also make sure they remain as prepared and safe as possible during their time at the event.
By Micki Nguyen, Director of Product Management, Cash & Logistics, Fiserv