Millennials, the generation that grew up during the Great Recession and that socialize more online than off, are assumed to be the beginning of the end for cash. If not them, then surely Generation Z. Where better to observe this in action than America’s college and university campuses. Except there’s one problem – cash remains the leading payment choice for in-store purchases costing less than $20.

Universities are massive ecosystems for retail activity. Students aren’t just scrounging up a few dollars here and there for beer money. Heading to class, they may make a pit stop at the student union for a coffee to make the 8AM class more palatable. Lunch at the on-campus café is followed by a quick breeze through the bookstore – some new headphones would be nice. The ticket office is on the way home – perfect time to pick up tickets for Saturday’s big game.

In no less than 24 hours, college students may interface with close to a dozen points of presence that take in cash. Indeed, 86% of college students carry cash, and as universities compete to attract students, amenities and attractions are added every year. QSR brands have taken notice, seeking an opportunity to build loyal followers in a new demographic who may be seeing their brand for the first time. QSR’s are high cash volume businesses, and students frequent them at all hours of the day.

“All they do is go to school and eat, basically. Their disposable income is high,” says Steven Johnson, a “grocerant guru” with consulting firm Foodservice Solutions.

Other locations across campus are hot spots for cash transactions as well. With upwards of 70,000 fans frequenting concession stands and the team store, game days can be challenging for football stadiums and basketball arenas. Cash handling on this scale poses problems for administrators who want to keep students and staff safe while gaining insight into the performances of the cash businesses across their campuses. Chief among the concerns is how to reduce the costs of dealing with cash – labor, higher banking fees, missing funds, high CIT (cash-in-transit) fees, and the risk of internal theft. Not only do these risks have an impact on the university’s bottom line, they also represent a real safety concern to students and faculty.

Fortunately, administrators and managers can take steps to help protect the cash their venues take in every day. First, they should create a plan for how cash is to be handled and provide guidelines to all employees who manage, receive, handle, and safeguard cash. Further, the most significant risk to many organizations is human error and internal theft, so it is also essential to reduce the number of people handling cash from the point of sale to the deposit at the financial institution. Finally, managers should establish secure cash transfer techniques when funds need to be transported to the vault or bank.

Minimizing the availability of large amounts of cash at campus locations by using a cash recycler or smart safe is the most effective way to protect funds. Cash recyclers help high volume cash entities re-use the cash they take in, in order to manage their day-to-day cash needs.  This helps to reduce the cash needed on hand, while at the same time providing a level of automation and accountability required to effectively manage high transaction environments. Smart safes provide automated bill counting and deposit functions along with extensive reporting capabilities, enabling campus venues to gain tremendous efficiencies and optimization of cash management processes. Best of all, the advanced reporting functions and dashboards provided by smart safes and cash recyclers can help university administrators gain a bird’s eye view of their cash business across their campus.

Learn more about Tidel cash management systems at https://www.tidel.com/products/.

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