Resilience of cash supply

Resilient cash logistics: security concept for emergencies and crises

Bargeld erhalten in Krisensituationen BaSic-Projekt
© leongoedhard

A prolonged emergency and crisis situation has far-reaching effects on a country. Nevertheless, its population must still be able to meet their basic needs, such as food, hygiene and mobility. Obtaining cash is a key element in the orderly management of a long-term disaster. Thus, in the event of a crisis, when electronic means of payment are often unavailable or limited, the supply of cash to the population is of central importance.

For this reason, the research project "Resilience of cash supply – BASIC" developed a novel security concept to strengthen the resilience of cash supply in emergency and crisis situations. In order to ensure that this is operational at all times, the focus is on safeguarding the work processes of cash and valuables service providers.


Security concept to ensure cash supply

To ensure that people can continue to meet their basic needs, an intact cash cycle is of absolute importance. However, it could be that this cycle is disrupted by various crisis situations and, for example, due to power outages or staff shortages, the cash supply cannot be fully guaranteed in its current form. This is precisely where the research project came in.

For the first time, stakeholders from banks, retailers, cash-in-transit companies and research institutions worked together to develop a security concept with the aim of permanently maintaining the cash supply in emergency situations. To achieve this, the first step was to describe possible crisis scenarios, ranging from long-term and widespread power outages to communications failures, and to examine the associated emergency plans already in place at individual retail groups, financial institutions and cash-in-transit providers. However, since these plans are often only geared to individual players, they were validated in the research project and analyzed with regard to successful conditions and needs for action in order to subsequently interlink them in a harmonized concept. In addition, findings from the analysis of historical national and international crises were taken into account. The resulting recommendations for action will enable all players in the cash cycle, and in particular cash and valuables managers in their central interface role, to further secure their own work processes in such a way that the cash supply can be maintained even in the event of a crisis.

Optimal cash withdrawal points in the event of a crisis thanks to mathematical optimization

In emergency and crisis situations, it is often no longer possible to operate all cash withdrawal points, i.e., ATMs and banks, as usual. There is a lack of the necessary resources (e.g., staff at the cash-in-transit companies) or the cash withdrawal points can only be used to a limited extent, e.g., due to a power outage. If it is no longer possible to guarantee the functionality of all cash withdrawal points, the question arises:

"What are the optimum cash reference points in Germany to ensure fair coverage with a smaller number of them in the event of a crisis?"

The mathematical optimization algorithm developed by the Fraunhofer IIS Supply Chain Services working group answers this question and provides a recommendation that can be individually adapted to the situation as to which cash reference points should be kept in operation with high priority in the event of a crisis. A novel feature of the algorithm is that it only works on the basis of publicly available geoinformation and the individually adjustable crisis parameters.

In order to ensure a high coverage of the algorithm and that its results are available to all actors in the cash cycle, the optimization algorithm is also anchored in the security framework concept. Knowledge of the central or "optimal" cash reference points can be used tactically in preparation for potential crises (e.g., in the distribution of emergency generators) or operationally during a crisis (e.g., in prioritizing the supply of cash reference points). Optimization can thus be used to help maintain the supply of cash to the population in the event of a crisis by ensuring fair coverage of cash withdrawal points.

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