Wednesday , June 19, 2024

Cash Still Looms Large for Merchants. Brink’s Is Signing Processors to Tackle the Issue

Lost in much of the conversation about digital payments, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, is what to do about the cash merchants take in. The Brink’s Co., which has been hauling and securing cash since 1859, says it has an answer, and on Tuesday it announced it also has an agreement with a major payments processor to bring that solution to merchants.

Priority Technology Holdings Inc. has agreed to participate in BLUbeem, a program Brink’s announced last month to let merchants take in cash payments and have them credited through a mobile app to their bank accounts through Brink’s. Alpharetta, Ga.-based Priority will sell the service alongside its processing of credit and debit card payments, the companies said Tuesday. Priority serves 250,000 merchants through ISOs and independent software vendors, the company says.

Some 20% to 25% of the payments taken in by the merchants in Priority’s portfolio occur in cash, the company adds, pointing to a sizable opportunity to resell BLUbeem. “Expanding our reach into cash payments will allow Priority to introduce a variety of new solutions into the market, helping improve customer retention and driving growth into new channels,” said Tom Priore, Priority’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

With BLUbeem, merchants store their day’s cash receipts in a bag supplied by Richmond, Va.-based Brink’s, then place the bag into a small safe-like device also supplied by Brink’s. They enter the cash total in the app, with Brink’s crediting the funds to the merchant’s bank account. Brink’s then arrives later to pick up the cash and take it to the merchant’s bank. This method, Brink’s says, allows cash intake to settle as fast as credit and debit card payments. The market size could be considerable. The company estimates some 1.6 million U.S. merchant locations lack what it regards as an “effective solution” for cash payments.

Similar services are available from other cash-transport companies, but these typically restrict deposits to a specific bank, according to Josh Allen, vice president of digital payments at Brink’s. “They’re not bank-agnostic” like BLUbeem, he tells Digital Transactions News. Fees for each deposit typically fall into the 1% to 3% range, he says, alongside what he calls a “small upfront monthly fee” to lease the safe-like cash-storage device.

Brink’s clearly has big ambitions for the new service. In its December announcement of BLUbeem, the company said its strategy is to integrate the service into merchants’ existing point-of-sale systems, requiring ties with ISOs and other payments providers. “We have a tremendous white-space market opportunity,” Rohan Pal, chief digital officer at Brinks, said in a statement at the time. “By creating commercial partnerships with digital payment companies, we can leverage their sales channels to reach these merchants.”

In addition to Priority, Brink’s has so far forged a partnership with FIS Inc. for BLUbeem, Allen says, adding there are other arrangements not yet named.

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