Cash is king in the Middle East and a crucial and reliable means of payment for many. Even though cash is growing in absolute numbers, the share of cash in retail payments is decreasing. This trend is visible in other parts of the world as well, but at the same time the use of cash is proving not to disappear (e.g. Sweden and Denmark). Another interesting fact is that in a lot of statistics about payments, the interpersonal payment transactions are excluded, which changes the image of cash payments even more.Nonetheless, with a decreasing share of cash payments, the cost of the cash supply chain becomes even more important. Creating a much more agile and cost-efficient supply chain, with a lower fixed cost, whilst keeping security levels at the highest level, is a challenge to take on by the entire cash industry.
Because we work with multiple clients in the Middle East, we notice that in certain countries Central Banks, Commercial Banks, Cash Service Providers and CITs are making dramatic advancements in the field of supply chain innovation. One advantage the region has over for example Europe, is the lower hurdle of legacy software systems. However, the real key driver for the advancements are unquestionably the leaders in the industry – and their clear determination to optimize the supply chain.These cash industry leaders see the need to truly reinvent and redesign the cash supply chain to be able to cope with the developments of cash usage in future. They have a strong focus on technology, standardization, and implementing best practices from all over the world. As well as, quickly adapting these global best practices to the local circumstances. In doing so, countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are showing a quantum-leap in cash supply chain innovation, compared to many other regions in the world.In several regions, signs that might indicate a decrease of cash as a means of payment, resulted in a lack of focus on cash and investment in its supply chain. Obviously, this will end up in high fixed costs for a decreasing volume of cash. Knowing that merchants and consumers alike love cash and that there will always be a certain amount of cash payments, the adaption of the supply chain to new circumstances should be top of mind.