There’s a way to manage the tricky balance between rapid digitization and the people who still need or prefer cash, and for Ram Chary it can be found in a casino.
“Cash is the preferred way for people to engage with a casino. But there’s a need to digitize those transactions, particularly during the pandemic,” said Chary, the new CEO and chairman of the board at Digital Cash Processing (DCP), a fintech and payment processor headquartered near the Twin Cities.
Chary has been at DCP for about a month, but was executive chair at CloudStreet Gaming just before, where the firm built games and managed transaction flows that bridged cash to automation.
“Most of the focus in payment innovation is on the digital side and not cash,” Chary said. “There is also a need to include cash support with the digital.”
The way casinos accommodate cash in an environment that requires digital interaction can also be applied to ATMs near small businesses, Chary contends. The key is to use a mobile phone, which most people have, as a contactless intermediary between cash deposits and digital payment processing and broader financial and merchant services.
Late in 2020 DCP received certification to launch transaction processing in the U.S., with plans to begin shortly. While DCP has offices in Minnesota, the company is already active in Latin America and has an existing integration with Jack Henry and other core banking systems.
DCP’s initial plan in the U.S. will be to offer ATM upgrades that enable cash deposits from the consumer, followed by loads to a digital wallet that can be used at any mechant. Most of the initial ATMs will be near retailers, though DCP plans to expand to other ATM locations. DCP is additionally registered as a Mastercard issuer processor, and supports prepaid, debit and cash conversions to crypto, managed remotely via a cloud connection to digital ATMs or a hardware attachment on older ATMs.
DCP’s target clients are ATM networks, financial institutions and retailers. It believes there’s an opportunity to use an API to support customer service, mobile wallet apps, IVR and reconciliation through the same portal to broaden ATM usage and provide retailers an additional venue to support digital payments while serving consumers who use cash.
In addition to CloudStreet Gaming, Chary was also president and CEO of Everi, where he led a $1.2 billion acquisition of Multimedia Games, allowing Everi to expand from payment processing to a full-service firm for the gaming industry. He also served in a variety of positions at FIS, including supply chains, contact center, offshore development and retail payment technology that supported prepaid cards, check processing and gaming payments.
“We have a lot of people on our staff [at DCP] who also have experience with gaming, so they have a lot of experience with cash,” Chary said.
The pandemic’s impact on digital commerce has been one of the biggest trends to come out of the crisis, as consumers and merchants rush to digital. Merchants have to enable more technology while maintaining cash support, up to and including potential laws requiring cash acceptance. And while cash has declined, it’s still widely used.
Writing for PaymentsSource, Steve Villegas, vice president of PPRO, said it’s difficult but necessary to find a middle ground between accelerating digital transformation and maintaining cash.
“Cash is often preferred for a plethora of reasons: It can be easier to use cash for smaller purchases, older consumers may be wary of digital payment methods, and avoiding credit can help shoppers stay within budget,” Villegas wrote.
There’s also the concern that cash is more expensive, causing controversies in countries such as the U.K., where banks and the government have fought over support for cash payments.
As businesses juggle digital and cash payments, they are also more prone to seek technology options that marry payments with other functions. Chary said he’s trying to address these needs through the ATM, which maintains a channel for cash.