The nation is becoming increasingly cashless — in fact, it may be completely cashless by 2026. And as the era of cash comes to an end, our mind wanders to the till.
A sound that lives in classic films and, very possibly, hipster vocabulary. As it should. Early cash registers were a sight to behold; and their innovations, remarkable.
Riddled with the task of keeping money safe while displaying it at the forefront of the venue was no easy job. But we got there.
Actually, old mate Ritty got there.
James Ritty: Father of Tills
Swindled but unhindered, James Ritty, a saloon owner, built the first-ever cash register in 1879. He called it Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier.
A novel device for its time, unfortunately Ritty’s cashier was not as incorruptible as he had hoped. While it confirmed that he was being swindled, the register couldn’t identify the culprit. It also heightened suspicion — labelling innocent staff as potential thieves.
Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier was soon bought out and it continued to grow and develop. Gaps were identified and addressed, and features like a cash drawer, paper roll to record sales, and an electric motor were included.
Digital Payments & Their Impact
Almost 100 years later, an entirely new mode of payment entered the market: debit cards.
In their early days, in 1985, only 10% of the Australian market were using cards. In recent times, as of 2016, 63% of all transactions have been cashless.
Cashless transactions gained momentum with the introduction of Tap & Go. An effortless and quick mode of payment offering unmatched convenience.
The Till Stands Still
So what does the rise in cashless transactions mean for cash registers?
Cash registers were perfected for over a century to manage cash. But with the decline — and potential end — of cash transactions, are cash registers still relevant?
As the limitations of the cash register keep increasing, its relevance in today’s market continues to decrease. Cash registers not only face challenges with new business tech integrations, they are also systematically being phased out by industry giants.
For example, Apple stores:
– don’t accept payments in cash
– don’t have a cash register
– don’t even have a counter
Instead, their staff is equipped with smart devices that can facilitate sales anywhere in the store.
POS on the Scene
Cloud-based POS came into the industry like a knight in shining armour — clad in tech, and armed in solutions. It addressed and expanded on the limitations of cash registers.
Approaching payments holistically, not just as a transaction, it studied how payments feed into different aspects of businesses. It integrated tools to communicate with each other: linking EFTPOS directly to accounting and reporting software, syncing data instantly and, as a result, eliminating human error.
The Age of Digital
Over the years, we’ve watched many aspects of our lives go digital. Newspapers, banking, photography… the list goes on.
Today, attempting to manoeuvre a flimsy newspaper seems absurd; and the thought of using film cameras, although charming, is far removed and tiresome. And just like newspapers and cameras, the age of digital has reached cash registers.
Digital cash registers are not about calculating bills and storing cash. Instead, they provide a platform to run businesses. They enable efficient operations, fast payments, reports on margins, inventory management, and much more.
So till, if you will, it’s time to pass the torch to the new generation of cash registers.