Need cash but the bank account’s empty? No problem, try the ATM — the peer-to-peer (P2P) ATM, that is.
In the coming months, a company called Mercuri Systems plans to introduce a P2P ATM product called Spare. Few details are available at this point, but it seems that users who are able to “spare some cash” can use a mobile app to prime an ATM for a friend to make a withdrawal of those funds. Users that “need some cash” can also put in requests on the app to let friends know it’s time to pony up.
Allowing P2P payments to go through cash access machines is both a logical growth in functionality for P2P payments as well as a natural step forward from ATMs that allow cardless withdrawals to be primed beforehand and then activated using QR codes.
Much of the effectiveness of this product will depend on the network of participating ATMs. If the functionality could be extended across international boundaries, that would greatly increase its utility. It is also unclear how users will connect on the app, though social media tie-ins would seem to be a natural starting point.
While some scoff at innovation that involves the ATM, the amount of cash-dependent customers — not to mention businesses — should make such critics pause. PayNearMe, which allows customers to use cash to make payments that would ordinarily only be feasible using cards or checking accounts, also operates in the space serving cash-dependent customers. Cash may be old and boring, but there is plenty of room for innovation to ease some pain for those that need to use cash often. Not everyone is ready to start buying lemonade with bitcoins just yet.1 - Reader Likes This Post