Reimagining Access to Cash: How Our Modular Banking Hubs Work

The changing landscape of banking

Almost 50% of UK bank branches have closed since 2015, making cash and associated services less accessible than ever before. Changes in cash usage caused by digitalisation and an increased move towards online banking have led to a decline in access to cash across the UK. However, cash still underpins the UK economy and is used daily by over 11 million people.  

FCA now mandating access to cash

The UK government has pledged to keep access to cash at the top of its agenda. In July 2022, new legislation committed to protecting access to cash as part of the Financial Services and Markets Bill. But it fails to make provision for a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been appointed as the designated body to monitor and enforce cash access requirements. To support the FCA, the government will set out its expectations for a reasonable distance for people to travel when depositing and withdrawing cash, yet much more is needed to protect the future of cash. 

The concept of modular banking hubs

Modular banking hubs are redefining access to cash. They are particularly valuable for communities that have lost most or all of their high street bank branches, or where a higher proportion of the population is digitally excluded.

Banking hubs are essentially a white-labelled, temporary bank structure, with the functionality of a traditional high street bank, positioned in a low cost retail space. The concept of a bank-in-a-box solution is a fully functional banking facility that can be located almost anywhere, such as in retail parks, shopping centres, on high streets, or even in supermarket car parks. In fact, wherever the public needs banking services and cash. They can offer multi-bank deposit options, cash withdrawals and face-to-face banking services. 

NoteMachine’s role in implementing modular banking hubs

NoteMachine’s AXIS banking hub solution keeps banks at the forefront of the financial market when cash access is still a critical part of society. By placing an AXIS hub in a strategic location with a high footfall, we futureproof the relationship between banks and their customers, maintaining interface, bringing banking back into the community and ensuring access to cash is maintained for everyone.

AXIS hubs are delivered by one expert supplier – designed, built, deployed and managed by NoteMachine – in a complete ‘turnkey package’ from design to deployment. The NoteMachine design team will conceptualise an AXIS hub to suit your needs and exact requirements. They will create a branded, modular, fully functional bank branch following the exact brand guidelines of your ‘bricks and mortar’ presence in the high street, yet without the financial commitment of a long-term lease on real estate.

The inner workings of an AXIS banking hub

Each bespoke AXIS hub is built off-site, with in-house development to create and provide the hub’s technical infrastructure. Only NoteMachine has the ability to provide the transaction processing platform and complex technical infrastructure of an AXIS hub, enabling banks to operate as single entities or as shared branch hubs, giving consumers more choice and flexibility in how they access and deposit their money.

With a fully mobilised project team ready to go, AXIS hubs can be designed, built and deployed wherever there is a need for convenient banking services. 

How our banking hubs maintain cash accessibility

With our transaction processing platform, NoteMachine saw an opportunity to build a secondary product: to take cash as well as to dispense it. We developed an active deposit solution in 2019. The subsequent deliverable was to onboard a bank customer to a deposit solution and diversify our ATM estate.

Now, at the heart of every AXIS hub is a multi-bank deposit solution, hosted via our in-house processing platform. The integration is with Vocalink, using the current connectivity to the issuer’s authorisation system. Customers can deposit funds directly into their bank accounts as a real-time deposit solution.

NoteMachine’s six cash distribution centres support branch coverage nationwide and full cash-in-transit services. With a simple bilateral agreement between NoteMachine and the financial institution, customers can deposit and withdraw cash for free at any AXIS hub location. NoteMachine has the technology platform and supporting full-service infrastructure to partner with financial institutions to deliver these services rapidly, flexibly and at competitive costs.

The role of ATMs within AXIS hubs

Utilising the physical and technical infrastructure of NoteMachine’s 9,500+ UK cash machines, our shared solution allows customers to manage their banking requirements (such as withdrawing cash, depositing funds or checking their balance), without the need for a financial institution to own and operate a bank branch.

ATMs are still at the heart of our proposition, enhancing accessibility, convenience and security, while providing a wide range of banking services in a single location. NoteMachine’s dedicated field engineers will also install, stage, commission, service and maintain all ATM variations.

Benefits of modular banking hubs for banks

The AXIS hubs are modern, sustainable and quick to install. The fact that they are white-labelled and can be branded and customised to any bank’s specific requirements in under-served areas means that banking customers benefit from the same user experience as a high street bank, yet without the bank worrying about huge overheads. 

AXIS hubs are much cheaper to build and operate than traditional bricks and mortar high street banks, requiring less cabling and network infrastructure than a bank branch. An added advantage is that the hub’s location can be changed relatively quickly and easily. From a sustainability perspective, the fact that AXIS hubs are fabricated from single-use shipping containers creates a positive impact in terms of the eco-friendly build and design. 

Improving the customer experience and ensuring cash access in all communities

AXIS hubs have a dedicated helpdesk and customer call centre, with Account Managers providing a single point of contact for a seamless customer experience. By integrating the physical presence of an ATM with shared digital services, banks can provide easier access to cash and everyday banking services for all of their customers. 

Our modular banking hubs can offer multi-deposit points in more rural areas and cold spots, which can be used by as many as 10 banks in locations such as supermarkets, car parks and petrol stations.

Case study: community benefits of a modular banking hub

TSB has partnered with NoteMachine and has deployed AXIS banking hubs to replace local branches that have closed, and also to venture into new areas where the bank has yet to establish a presence.

The first three hubs have now opened in Wood Green, Wigan and Luton. Gary Jones, TSB’s Customer Delivery Director said, 

“TSB remains committed to offering face-to-face banking services and, with pilots like the TSB pods underway and an increase in our video banking offer, we continue to innovate in how we can serve our customers in ways that work best for them.”

The potential of AXIS hubs for the future of cash access

Access to cash is all about choice, giving consumers and businesses flexibility in how they manage their costs and cash flow. NoteMachine is in the market to provide that level of choice to consumers in the UK, both with their substantial ATM network and AXIS hubs.

What AXIS by NoteMachine delivers at a singular bank level is the ability to gain reach for existing customers and potentially future customers, allowing banks to still cost effectively market their brand and their services, whilst being located in areas with maximum footfall. 

Our vision for modular banking hubs

AXIS hubs, whether single-branded or multi-branded facilities, are an attractive, viable alternative to physical branches for financial institutions. 

The demand for banking hubs will only increase as more bank branches close. The AXIS solution is key to the long-term growth of NoteMachine, and in turn, Brink’s. With more AXIS hubs going live later this year in the UK, we intend to take this proposition to France, especially in more rural areas, then the US.

Our commitment to reimagining cash access

Banks need to commit to maintaining access to cash by ensuring the availability of ATMs, maintaining a sufficient cash supply, managing operational reliability and providing convenient access points for customers to withdraw and deposit cash.

NoteMachine offers a long-term solution to cash access with our AXIS hubs, enabling financial inclusion for everyone, whilst creating a commercially sustainable operating environment for banks. We want to keep the access to cash debate at the forefront and are laser-focused on offering high-security, sustainable new banking options in a safe, low-cost environment. It’s vital that we maintain and increase traction, giving banks and their consumers the choice of how they manage their cash. 

If you’d like to find out more, please email [email protected]

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