Secure solutions for tackling cash management
What are the core competencies of G4S as a company?
Graham Levinsohn: G4S was established in 2004 through the merger of Group 4 and Securicor. We define our core business as secure solutions and cash solutions, which covers services ranging from cash management to security systems, manned security, facilities management and government outsourcing. We maintain a global presence. In Europe alone, we operate across 25 countries, from the Ukraine to the UK.
What are the principal services that the company provides for its clients in the banking sector?
G4S runs cash centres for banks under central bank supervision across the globe. A good example of this service in practice can be found in the UK, where we operate cash centres on behalf of a number of major British banks under the auspices of the Bank of England Note Circulation Scheme. This is in addition to the cash centres that we run for Scottish and Northern Irish note-issuing banks, which includes us overseeing the destruction of unfit bank notes. Further to that, we're also contracted to manage automated cash machines inside individual bank branches, allowing branch staff to focus on value-added sales activity.
More recently, we have begun to work with our banking clients to develop stand-alone business bank branches. This allows SMEs to pay in cash and withdraw coin without clogging up the retail branch network of the bank. The interest of our banking clients in this innovation tallies with our observation that more financial institutions want to reduce their direct handling of cash - whether that's in the branch or cash centre - and redeploy their staff towards more value-added activities. In all instances, we've run cost-effective operations for our banking clients while adhering to complex regulatory standards.
What can you tell us about reports that G4S is planning to open mobile or high-street banking units in the UK and elsewhere in Europe?
We plan to run a number of mobile branches for our banking clients in the UK and across Europe, allowing them to service rural locations and thereby permit the closure of unprofitable fixed branches. However, it is not G4S's desire to be a bank or to compete with our clients in the banking sector. It is our desire to work collaboratively with them to deliver a wide range of services to their customers, thereby delivering higher-quality services at a lower overall cost for the bank.
Why should banks partner with G4S in order to boost the efficiency of their cash operations?
We understand that banking is going through a revolution. Challenger banks are snapping at the heels of the established order, uninhibited by legacy infrastructure. In such an environment, high-street banks are carefully defining their core competencies and, more importantly, what their customers truly value about them. Only then can they focus upon delivering value combined with the best possible customer experience.
The reality is that customers still want to use cash, something the fintechs and challenger banks struggle to provide. While this can prove to be a significant advantage for established banks, it is also a fragile one, prone to being undermined by a poor customer experience or the provision of services many would deem too expensive. G4S has proved time and again that cash management is our core competency and that we provide a good customer experience for our banking partners. We are not a bank, nor do we aspire to be a bank, but our focus on delivering cash solutions at a consistently high standard at the lowest possible cost has been relentless.
Can you explain some of the challenges of transporting cash to ATMs, and retrieving cheques and cash deposits left by customers?
The types of machines in bank branches have evolved quickly over the past decade. Whereas once there were separate machines for deposits and ATM services, now many branches have installed sophisticated combined recycling machines in addition to cheque imagers and coin machines. It is our intention to continue our investment in these solutions and to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics. I think that makes our future very exciting when it comes to the world of cash solutions.
How has G4S remained an independent cash management provider with no conflicts of interest?
This is a key point, and I will give you a concrete example of how we tackle this. When we introduce our CASH360 software and hardware to our retail clients, it is we who decide how often cash-in-transit services are required. In all instances, we reduce these services to the minimum level. Our simple view is we are a cash solutions business and not, as some may assume, an armoured car provider. G4S is there to reduce the cost of managing cash to society and to our customers. If we can deliver this with half of the vehicles today, then tomorrow it will be good for our customers, the environment and our business.
How does G4S practicably ensure compliance with banking regulations in each of the countries it does business in?
Our view is that this is simply the minimum standard. G4S is used to working with central banks and other financial regulators, and we understand that any issue in this area has potentially serious reputational consequences not only for our clients, but also for G4S. To manage this rise we maintain regulatory compliance teams to ensure full compliance with current regulations.
What do you consider are your specific qualities as an outsourcing provider to banks?
We agree that picking the right business partner is crucial. If you believe that excellent customer service across all channels is central to your long-term market strategy, then you need to choose a partner that is as good as, or better than, you are in the selected field. If they are good, they will be efficient and you will enjoy a lower cost base.
G4S has developed deep relationships with many major banks across Africa, Asia, Europe and the US on this basis. From this, we have won the respect of multiple central banks, which is vital to us and our banking partners as we penetrate deeper into the cash cycle, undertaking functions that have traditionally come under the purview of individual branches.