Cash is dead, long live digital cash!?

In my previous blog, Cash is king, but for how long?, I discussed the global cashless trend. In a nutshell, recent studies show that consumers are using payment cards more often, for all sorts of purchases. At the same time, in Britain, cash machines were disappearing and along with them, people’s access to cash.

Today, five countries are home to more than fifty per cent of the world’s cash machines. Four of these countries, Brazil, China, Japan and the USA all saw a decline in the past year. While it’s true that all around the world, populations are replacing their cash for cards and access to cash is becoming harder, there’s still a caveat to this trend.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light;
-Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953

Will cash go gentle into that good night?

A new RBR study, Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2024, shows that the number of cash machines around the world fell by 1% (roughly 700,000) in the last year. However, in developing economies and those in transition throughout the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Latin America, cash machines are actually on the rise. India saw very slow growth in the number of cash machines, but growth nonetheless.

As the decline of cash machines in developed markets continues, so will the growth of cash machines in developing markets. Will this growth continue unabated? No, it will not. Still, in the coming years, this offset will lead to a rather slow decline in cash machines, from 3.24 million in 2018 to 3.22 million in 2024. The impending cash extinction will one day be upon us, but it won’t happen everywhere all at once.



When the time comes, will cash be missed? Perhaps, for a little while. But going cashless has its benefits. To name a few:

Safety – Cash is dangerous

Safety has always been a concern when it comes to cold hard cash. For many businesses, the less cash on the premises, the better. Especially as contactless payments become the norm, the less time spent on the handling and changing of money will result in faster service and shorter waiting lines for consumers.

Health – Cash is dirty

It’s also a matter of maintaining good hygiene. Did you know flu viruses can live on paper money for up to 17 days? At the London Met, an investigation into the hygiene of money found that cash in circulation contained life-threatening superbugs like MRSA as well as bacteria like Listeria. This is especially a problem for people with weak or weakened immune systems.

Scale – Cards are less messy

Major cities are also taking note. Here in the Netherlands, try paying a bus driver in cash, and she’ll just turn you away. In cities like Rotterdam, the entire public transport system is card-based. Same goes for London, where the Oyster card is your gateway to all transit options. As we speak, the city of Paris is about to launch a card-based payment method for its metro system. Passengers with a Navigo Easy card will be able to recharge their credit with their smartphones, further separating the virtual from the physical world.

Data – Cards are insightful

One of the aspects that few people think about is that card payments are easier to track. Measurements and financial reporting are more accurate when people use cards. Cards tell us a lot more than money spent. Cards tell us who spent it, where and when. Cards allow for predictive analytics that ideally improve the experiences of consumers.

Still, fraud is not going away

Technically, a card is only as valuable as the amount of cash it represents. However, the ‘danger’ of handling cash is also moving into the digital era. As the speed and overall value of transactions increase, so does the speed at which fraudsters operate.

Instead of looking over their shoulders, customers now rely upon you, the business owner or manager, to make sure their transactions are protected in the online environment. So of course, this naturally begs the question: what’s the digital and legal equivalent of a sawed-off shotgun hidden under the counter?

Well, you’d need a system. Ideally, a payment system with a 100% payment guarantee, that detects fraud but also prevents it from happening. A system with seamless integration and advanced business intelligence tools for invaluable insights that give you a competitive advantage.

I think I might know of such a system.

Get in touch with our team for more information on our payment services.

Alphacomm Solutions whitepaper: how automated payment reminder systems boost your credit management performance

Andrew Collins
New Business Development Manager

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The future of prepaid top-up

The future of prepaid top-up. What’s your prediction?

From scratch cards to websites. From chatbots to voice assistants. The world of prepaid top-up is evolving faster and faster. How will we top up our prepaid phones in the near and distant future?

The year is 1876. In Boston Massachusetts, a 29-year-old teacher of the deaf, who had been working on all sorts of inventions in his spare time, is finally awarded a patent for what would later become the telephone.

Innovation leads to more innovation

This teacher, who went by the name Alexander Graham Bell, was working on a device that could accurately reproduce the human voice. He came upon this idea, by working on the ‘harmonic telegraph,’ an improvement of the telegraph. This improvement, which meant expanding the range of audio frequencies, led to the ability to transmit a lot more messages simultaneously, truly laying the groundwork for a means of mass communication. As for the telegraph itself? It relied on a constant flow of electricity, so it basically came about thanks to the invention of the electric dynamo by Michael Faraday.

Simply put, if every innovation leads to another, being able to predict what’s next is perhaps one of the greatest skills a person or organisation could have. Right?

But hey, even if we can’t accurately predict the future, we can certainly analyse the past, understand the present and make informed guesses as to the opportunities that lie ahead.

Alexander Graham Bell sketch of telephone

The Prepaid phone

The telephone has come a long way since 1876. In the following 143 years since, the telephone has become more accessible and even more indispensable. It has changed shape, become mobile and is now available in a wide range of categories. From cheap and sturdy to expensive and fragile. Fortunately, for millions of people around the world, so have the various options to pay for such a service.

Service you say? Well, the device is one thing, but the service it provides is so much more. The phone allows people to connect, regardless of distance or social standing. Thanks to connectivity, people are able to remain in touch with loved ones, become more productive and have a better quality of life.

Whereas the societal impact of the mobile phone is one that simply cannot be denied. The prepaid mobile phone is truly a game changer. The prepaid phone has allowed developing nations to leapfrog into the future, skipping the age of the landline.

Prepaid top-up

For the millions upon millions of people with prepaid phones, connectivity can only be hampered by one thing; the ability to top-up.

We all know the traditional way of topping up phone credit. It generally goes like this: you dress up, leave the house, go to a store, purchase the prepaid scratch card, find a place to read the instructions, send a specific code to a specific phone number and hope you put in the code right within the first three tries or end up having to buy a new one.

Thankfully, topping up your phone today is easier than ever. You don’t even have to do it yourself. If you live in a remote area or lack an internet connection, a friend or family member elsewhere can top up your phone credit remotely.

In recent times, innovations in top-up are moving pretty fast. Technology is changing, allowing for more technical possibilities. As a consequence, people’s behaviours and expectations are changing as well. Naturally, the top-up landscape is changing along with them.

So, where do we go from here?

The first wave: Chatbots / Dash buttons

The first wave is already upon us. Chatbots have enabled users to top up their phones from wherever they may be, as long as they have an internet connection and a messaging app on their phone. Once the user initiates the conversation, the chatbot asks a few questions and the transaction is made. A good example of this is the WhatsApp chatbot available through in Germany.

In most parts of the world, just about everybody has WhatsApp on their phone. So users don’t need to download yet another app to their device.

And how about dash buttons? A dash button is a nifty little device that is connected to a user’s Wi-Fi. Whenever the user taps the button, a message is sent to the supplier and a confirmation request is sent to the user’s inbox.

For about four years, Amazon sold dash buttons that enabled its Prime users to order just about anything with the tap of a button. From toothpaste to condoms. However, as of March 1st 2019, Amazon stopped selling physical dash buttons. Why? Because the company noticed user preferences were shifting towards voice assistants and subscriptions.

Amazon may have given up on theirs, but the concept of a dash button goes beyond a physical device. A button on your phone’s home screen is perhaps a more useful ‘dash button.’ What if all you had to do to top-up your phone, was ‘tap and confirm’?

The second wave: Voice Assistants

As we ride the chatbot wave onto the shore, a brand-new swell is already on its way: the voice assistant. If you own an Apple or Android device, you already have one in your hand.

Asking the voice assistant on your phone for directions makes life easier. Asking it to tell a joke or beatbox can be funny. But how about asking your phone to top-up its own credit or someone else’s?

Voice assistants are becoming more popular and many homes already have one. Have you embraced it yet? Do you think mobile phone top-up through voice assistants is going to be the next big thing for prepaid users?

The third wave: Augmented reality? Or something else?

Once we’ve mastered the art of ‘asking’ computers to top up our phone credit and gotten used to chatting with bots, what will be next?

Given the way in which one innovation often facilitates another. Is voice going to pass the baton to augmented reality? Mercedes-Benz is already combining voice and augmented reality in their navigation systems. You use your voice to ask your car for directions. While driving, graphics are layered over a real-time video of the road ahead. Or what about holographic technology? Back in 2012, we saw Tupac Shakur perform at Coachella.

Summoning a hologram, only to ask it to top up your phone seems like a hassle though.

What’s your prediction?

Will we top up our phones by commanding robots? Or will neural implants simply ‘know’ what we need and take care of it? Will our concepts of money, currency and payment evolve altogether? Or will the availability of free Wi-Fi and messaging apps simply kill the need for prepaid top-up?

I’d love to hear what you think the future of prepaid is going to be like. Get in touch!


Interested in driving changes in prepaid phone plans to your company? Contact sales to arrange a free consultation.

If you have any question about our reload services please let me know. I’ll be happy to answer!

About the author

Alper Altan – Reload Services
Business Development Manager

I’m Alper Altan, Business Development Manager at Alphacomm Solutions. I make sure that Alphacomm maximizes profit on existing customers as well as new business.

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Are you omni or out? Why omnichannel businesses thrive

Omni-channel is no longer a buzzword. It’s been proven that businesses that provide omnichannel experiences are likely to see increased loyalty and higher average transaction value (ATV) across the board.

The ol’ single-channel

Back in the day, every business started with a single-channel. In fact, some businesses still are. Just picture an old family bakery down the street whose baked goods are so fresh and tasty the whole town knows about it. Sometimes word of mouth and years of quality are enough to keep a business running for more than one lifetime, even while everything else changes around them. Nowadays, very few businesses are truly single-channel. Taking orders and addressing clients by phone already turns an old bakery into a multi-channel business. Moreover, any enterprise looking to meet their client’s preferences will need to develop an online presence at some point. So what if the old bakery decided to build a website and engage with their audiences through this medium? Well, that’s 3 channels.

From multichannel to cross-channel

Multi-channel businesses offer various channels, but these channels aren’t integrated. For example, you might visit the website and chat with a representative, yet go to the physical store and come to the realisation that they have no idea what was discussed and zero knowledge regarding your online purchase history. On the other hand, cross-channel businesses have integrated their channels and are able to identify their customers regardless of the channel they use. For example, purchasing an item online and picking it up in a physical store. Or another example, purchasing a voucher offline in a store and redeeming it online on the company website.

So what is omnichannel exactly?

Now, this is where it gets interesting. Cross-channel and omnichannel are fairly similar. So similar in fact, that some experts even disregard term cross-channel altogether. However, the main differentiator is the goal of achieving total and complete ubiquity. It’s a goal that businesses never fully achieve since the possibilities for integration are always evolving and new devices or technologies will always push the goalpost just a tiny bit further.

You know what they did last summer

Omnichannel is all about allowing consumers to access your services in a seamless manner, no matter the channel. Through it all, their identity is always known and the experience is always the same. Your website, app, physical store and call centres are one and the same in the eye of the consumer. He moves seamlessly through all of your channels without ever feeling any sort of disconnect.


Omnichannel leads to ‘omnifraud’

Going down the rabbit-hole makes a lot of economic sense. For starters, omnichannel consumers spend more! Also, omnichannel consumers are loyal and their loyalty travels along with them when they are abroad. Being an omnichannel business also means offering secure payments across all devices and platforms. Needless to say, fighting fraud on multiple fronts is a huge challenge. According to a 2015 report by ACI and Forrester Consulting, consumer thirst for omnichannel experiences have left retailers with more questions than answers. The report found that 65% don’t think they have access to the right fraud management tools to operate in the omnichannel world. More than half stated that company staff didn’t have the necessary skills to tackle omnichannel fraud challenges while only 46% said they had fraud management solutions across all channels.

How to eliminate omnichannel fraud?

The more sales channels in use, the more possibilities for fraudsters. A one size fits all approach doesn’t cut it. The fraud challenges in CP and CNP environments are quite different, as are the technical differences between devices and platforms. Simply put, fighting fraud in an omnichannel environment requires omnichannel fraud management tools and the right team of experts to manage them.


Are you offering your clients a safe omnichannel experience? If you’re not sure, you might want to give us a call. At Alphacomm, our goal is to secure revenue. To that end, we offer guaranteed payments and fraud consultancy services for the omnichannel environment. Get in touch with our team for more information on our business solutions.

Alphacomm Solutions whitepaper: how automated payment reminder systems boost your credit management performance

Andrew Collins New Business Development Manager

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How automated payment reminders reduce DSO

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know what it’s like to sell without actually making money. The very act of selling costs money and when customers don’t pay (on time), the cost of selling, coupled with overall costs of business can really put a strain on day to day operations.

It’s unfortunate that nowadays, fully staffed departments are needed in order to ensure due payments are received. From sending out payment reminders to making and answering phone calls with sometimes difficult customers, dunning takes up a lot of time and it also costs money.

There has to be a better way, right? How can businesses collect payments on time, reduce DSO and improve liquidity? The answer is automation.

Here are three big reasons why automated payment reminders are effective at reducing DSO:

1. Customer friendly

Stay friends with your customers by reminding them of due dates and offering a complete range of secure payment methods. When customers don’t pay, it usually comes down to one of two things: either they forgot to pay or they lack the funds to do so. In both cases, a friendly reminder along with a wide range of payment options is your best bet.

Automated payment reminders make this entire process a whole lot easier. For example, the available payment methods, including the option to pay later or in instalments can be selected and agreed to by the customer, without the need to converse with company staff.

Moreover, by sending personalised reminders, customers feel more at ease and in control. This is especially true for millennials. They respond well to a friendly approach. A 2013 poll found that millennials were more forgetful than seniors. Among the possible causes were high levels of stress. In a 2015 report by the American Psychological Association, this was proven once again. This generation, marred by high debt and financial stress could definitely use a bit of TLC.

2. Relevant and effective

The traditional letter in the mail doesn’t cut it anymore. On the whole, many consumers have adopted a ‘digital first’ mindset. In other words, if you don’t expect customers to show up with paper money, why limit your approach to paper letters?

Automated payment reminders can be sent via the communication channels your customers prefer, whether it’s WhatsApp, interactive video, QR code, email, SMS, voice etc. Communicating with your customers through the means they prefer is cost-efficient and highly effective.

Voice reminders are especially effective at freeing up staff so they have more time to focus on complex matters like helping customers with invoice queries and custom payment plans. Learn more about voice reminders by checking out our Effective Payment Collection whitepaper.

Moreover, by segmenting your customers you could use different communication channels for different customer groups. For example, you could send payment reminders via WhatsApp to a millennial audience and traditional mail to baby boomers. Clear messages sent through relevant communication channels increase conversions and reduce DSO.

3. Insightful

Automated payment reminder platforms like the one offered by Alphacomm Solutions offer valuable insights into customer behaviour. Use the business intelligence data to find out which methods yield the best results and adapt your strategy accordingly.


Your people are your most valuable asset. Make sure they are free to focus on valuable tasks that push the company forward by automating the payment collection process. Contact Alphacomm Solutions for more information on our Payment Reminders solutions.

Get in touch with our team for more information on our business solutions.

Alphacomm Solutions whitepaper: how automated payment reminder systems boost your credit management performance

Michael Martens
Head of Sales

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Cash is king but for how long? Alphacomm Solutions

Cash is king, but for how long?

The latest Global Payment Cards Data and Forecasts report by RBR, released in February 2019, highlights the sharp rise in the acceptance and usage of payment cards. But are merchants ready for a cashless economy?

In 2017, approximately $25.1 trillion worth of purchases were made with payment cards compared to 2016. In this same period, e-commerce card expenditure reached $4.5 trillion; an increase of 13%. According to the study, card expenditure worldwide is expected to be valued at $45.2 trillion by 2023. E-commerce will make up a substantial part of this figure as it is predicted to hit $11 trillion.

Low value payments are becoming more frequent

One explanation for the rise in card expenditure is consumers are increasingly using their cards for low value payments. In recent years, mainstream adoption of cards as methods of payment has been buoyed by improvements in convenience.

One notable exception to the trend is China. Chinese consumers generally reserve cards for high value purchases. Nonetheless, the Asia-Pacific region, with its 28% share in payment volume, is still responsible for 50% of global card expenditure.

Access to cash in a cashless economy?

Consumer attitude is changing when it comes to commerce. In Europe, many businesses and festivals have started to eliminate cash as a payment option. Another development in the payment landscape is the passing of the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) by the European Parliament. The directive provides a much-needed regulatory framework within which European banks and fintech companies can coexist and allows for greater access to alternative banking options.

However, these changes and shifting attitudes have left some wanting. As younger generations do most of their banking online, brick and mortar bank branches have been disappearing across Europe. According to analysis in the UK by Consumers’ Association Which?,  ATMs are disappearing at breakneck pace, especially in rural areas. In 2018, approximately 200 British communities either had poor or no access at all to cash machines. As access to cash becomes a problem, card expenditure will undoubtedly continue to rise. But are merchants ready for the cashless economy?

Securing revenue in the online world

The more we spend online, the more we need to be aware of the pitfalls. As the value of card transactions drops and the frequency of use rises, merchants will increasingly see the need to take measures to protect their business by securing their revenue. Avoiding costly chargebacks and outsmarting fraudsters are among the top challenges for online merchants.

Furthermore, as e-commerce spreads to new markets and international consumer purchases become more prevalent, the need for tools like as SEPA e-mandates and digital payment reminders will only rise. How are you preparing for the cashless economy?

Get in touch with our team for more information on our business solutions.

Alphacomm Solutions whitepaper: how automated payment reminder systems boost your credit management performance

Andrew Collins
New Business Development Manager

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