AMOA Topper Sees Payment Options as Key
Q: If, as president, you could only focus on one single issue facing street operators, what would it be?
A: Stepping into the AMOA presidential role, you quickly learn the many areas AMOA touches on a day-to-day basis on behalf of its members. If I had to choose just one single issue to focus on though, without a doubt it would be “cashless.”
Several years back, AMOA leadership recognized the fact that cashless technology was quickly evolving, and the association created a focus group to begin studying how the association could best educate and serve our members in this area. I was fortunate to be part of this group from day one.
AMOA began by conducting a variety of education on this topic at its annual On the Road Continuing Education Program in the fall, through webinars and online resources, and as part of the annual AAMA/AMOA Amusement Expo International education program.
Through this initiative, AMOA also launched its “cashless” member benefit through program partner Heartland MicroPayments early last summer. This benefit provides cost savings to AMOA members on Heartland’s operator-friendly cashless solution.
When we talk “cashless,” however, there’s the obvious, and the not-so-obvious. Let’s talk about the obvious.
We all know today’s youth would turn around and retrieve their phones in a heartbeat if they left them at home…their wallet, not so much. With the ease of cashless/mobile payments nowadays I’d even venture to say even my generation solidly falls in the “I don’t carry cash” category.
As operators, it’s imperative we pay attention to who today’s paying customer is: most likely someone not carrying cash. If we’re not, we’re most likely leaving money on the table. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple –– or cost effective –– in the typical operator’s small-ticket transaction environment.
What is promising, though, is we continue to see emerging cashless technology geared for our segment. In fact, one of the most consistent positives I heard coming from operators at the Amusement Expo was the opportunity some of these new “cashless” solutions could provide their businesses (and to get to see them firsthand at the exhibits). Personally,
it’s refreshing to see these new technologies targeted at the full-line owner/operator. In my opinion, it’s a win-win for the industry.
Now let’s take a look at the not-so-obvious.
AMOA has been fighting the account closure issue (“Operation Choke Point”) for two years now, and although we’ve had some successes legislatively, our work in Washington further highlights the fact that banks, especially big banks, simply do not want to deal with cash-intensive businesses.
Cash is not going away and at the same time, the DNA of banking as we once knew it continues to change at a rapid pace. Here’s an example: One of our operator members reported recently that he’d been contacted by his bank asking if they could stop by his shop for a visit. When the bank representative showed up, they brought along a special safe to demonstrate. Basically, the moment cash and/or coin is fed into this type of safe, the money is immediately deposited into your bank account and available for use. The safe is later picked up by an armored service; the bank itself never touches the money.
On the cashless side, technology is changing not only in how we’re receiving payment from our customers, but in how those payments are being processed by our banking institutions. AMOA continues to pay close attention to these “cashless” trends affecting all aspects of an operator’s business and is committed to providing the education necessary to help operators navigate these ever-changing waters, which requires understanding the overall landscape.
For anyone wanting to educate themselves on these trends, I suggest marking your calendar and participating in AMOA’s next On the Road Continuing Education Program set for Oct. 26-28 at the Rosemont Hilton (close to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport). We’ll be dedicating a full morning session to this very topic. In the meantime, members should watch for details on upcoming online education opportunities later this spring.
Jim Marsh is the second-generation leader at Hart Novelty (Bellingham, Washington), following in the footsteps of his father (and past-AMOA president) Al Marsh who passed away in 2009. Jim left college to fill in for his father during his 1986-1987 AMOA term and never left, enjoying living and working in the community he loves. Hart Novelty got its start in the 1940s as a pinball and jukebox operation founded by Joe Hart, later run by Jack Roberts until the 1960s when Al Marsh took the reins. (He started working at the company back in the ’50s. Today, Hart covers some 60 square miles across Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties with street locations that range from upscale urban to blue-collar rural. It still specializes in jukes and pins, but has added a host of other amusement devices to its portfolio, including redemption units along with ATMs.
Jim himself is every bit the kind gentleman his father was and should bring a steady hand to the helm of the national operator group. During his term, he hopes to bring more FEC owners into the membership, encourage operators to take advantage of networking opportunities and continue growing educational programs.