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March 26, 2015
Dispensing cash from your kiosk can be invaluable for making change for your customers like a human cashier, but also introduces several new challenges.
Most people familiar with bill acceptors think of a bill recycler as simply an add-on component which dispenses cash, but this is far from the case.
Dispensing bills greatly increases the complexity of the device and the logic required by your kiosk application in order to gracefully complete a cash transaction.
All of these challenges can be overcome with careful planning and the reduced cashier expenses will be well worth the investment.
1. Running out of cash to dispense
In order to avoid running out of cash to dispense, you will require detailed knowledge of your daily sales volume to gauge just how often you'll need to refill your bill recycler.
At first, you'll want to regularly refill your bill recycler and determine the number of bills remaining of each denomination. This knowledge will be useful for determining the right bill denominations to recycle.
We also recommend building a real-time notification system into your kiosk application which lets you know exactly when your bill recycler reaches critical thresholds. The MEI BNR has support for defining notification thresholds but it's up to you to roll your own notification system.
With careful monitoring and regular refilling you can help ensure that your bill recycler will have the notes necessary to make change.
2. Choosing the right bill denominations to recycle
A common misconception about bill recyclers is that they can dispense bills of any denomination. The reality is that just because your bill acceptor can accept a bill of a certain denomination doesn't mean it can dispense that denomination.
Your bill recycler limits the number of denominations you can recycle. The MEI BNR, one of the largest bill recyclers, limits you to four denominations due to its four recyclers.
Smaller recyclers like the MEI SCR limit you to two denominations of your choosing. The MEI VNR, an even smaller bill recycler designed for vending, limits you to dispensing only $1 and $5 notes.
The process of choosing the right denominations to recycle varies per business.
For instance, if your device has four recyclers and most of the transactions are less than $20, then it would be best to disallow accepting notes over $20 and then filling your recyclers with only $1 and $5 notes.
For larger transactions, typically reaching into the hundreds of dollars, then it would be wise to have a couple recyclers with higher denomination notes.
3. Device constraints with the number of bills that can be dispensed
Your bill recycler will have a limit on the number of bills it can dispense, often referred to as a "note count limit."
Let's take a look at how the note count limit affects giving change. For example, if the transaction total is $125 and your customer inserts $200, this means that $75 is due. If you’re only dispensing $1 and $5 notes then the bill stack may reach the note limit of a recycler.
In this case, your kiosk application will have to be smart enough to handle dispensing change from multiple transactions. When the note limit is overrun, then multiple dispense transactions will be necessary to give change to your customers. Additional logic will have to be implemented to ensure that all transactions can successfully dispense change or else we’re stuck with partial change.
As you can see there's a lot more to dispensing change then just sending a message to your bill recycler instructing it to dispense a given dollar amount.
4. What if the customer doesn't have enough cash to complete the transaction?
When I talk about "rolling back a transaction," I'm referring to the scenario where the customer doesn't have enough cash to complete the transaction,
They should get their money back right?
Yes, but there may be a problem with that. Let me explain why rolling back a transaction might not always work.
Let’s say your bill recycler is configured to dispense $1, $5, $10 and $20 notes. Now let’s say the customer need to insert $910 to complete their transaction.
She inserts four $100 notes and 25 $20 notes for a total of $900. At this point she is $10 short and doesn't have the cash on hand to complete the transaction,
Since you have a bill recycler capable of dispensing cash you want to refund her money right?
This brings up an issue. The four $100 notes she inserted are now in the cashbox and cannot be dispensed. Remember, your device is configured to recycle only smaller bills, not $100 notes.
This means that your bill recycler has to find the extra $400 to make up for those notes in the recyclers.
What happens if there isn’t another $400 in the recyclers to give? Even if there is the available cash to dispense, SHOULD you dispense the available $400 and massively deplete your smaller bills?
Doing so could cause you to run out of cash to dispense for future transactions much sooner than anticipated.
This is also why the real-time notification system is a good idea, so you can detect critical thresholds and react accordingly.
This also brings me back to my point on the importance of choosing the right denominations to recycle. If you fail to do so you may not be able to return the customer's money in a case where they can't complete the transaction.
5. Not having exact change
What should you do in the case when your bill recycler doesn’t have the exact change available to dispense?
Let’s say you owe the customer $50 change and your bill recycler only has $45. Should you dispense partial change to the customer and direct the customer to get their remaining $5 from a cashier? Or maybe don’t dispense change at all and direct the customer to a cashier in order to receive the full amount.
This is a difficult question that you'll have to answer based on what makes the most sense for your business.
The morale of the story, is make sure don't run out of change by refilling your bill recycler frequently and ideally using a notification system.