Sometimes the future isn’t that clear, and this one has us perplexed. We are not sure this is a step forward or backwards in technology, but we find it interesting. Nimbl, a San Francisco start-up now has an app available where you can request cash and a certified runner brings it to you. For those that have converted to Apple Pay this week (along with the other 8 million people), the app solves the problem of how to get cash easily in an increasingly cashless society.
Currently, the application is only available in San Francisco and New York, plus it only works with an Apple device. The backbone of the application is Venmo, which handles the payment processing. The cost is free for the first few transactions and then $5 per delivery. While that may seem steep to you all sitting within a hundred yards of an ATM, when you consider foreign ATM fees now average $3 per transaction, the extra $2 for convenience of not having to leave the office/airport/restaurant/etc. is downright cheap.
Now, from a business model standpoint, having a human run around with cash all day in metropolitan areas doesn’t seem sustainable given the cost, risk and effort. However, should Nimbl morph into delivering more than cash or combine with the Google/Amazon/Walgreens/Albertsons to deliver lunch/toothpaste/Coffee/etc., the service starts to make some sense.
For community banks, particularly those that pride themselves on VIP service, there is something there, as it solves the problem of how to make customers feel more secure that they can get cash anywhere. The lure of a big bank is mostly driven by convenience, and access to cash, is a huge factor. While getting cash from retail stores at the point of sale has helped, locations are sometimes difficult to find. Nimbl could level the playing field, particularly if there was an automated teller dropped in their central location so that they could handle deposits and other transactions where a physical presence is needed. Using Nimbl to cover outlying areas does make some sense where a $40,000 ATM, plus servicing cost doesn’t make economic sense for a bank.
We will continue to monitor the service and will test it out. We are in discussions with Nimbl to see if aggregating community bank interest so that Nimbl could be a shared resource is a viable option. Until then, think about all the time when having cash delivered would be convenient and the future where we have fewer branches, and the picture of the future may get a little clearer.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on October 23, 2014