From the outside, the machine is a nondescript black box measuring roughly a metre tall and half a metre wide. But it is in fact a smart safe which verifies, secures and instantly credits cash into a nominated business bank account.

G4S in Uganda has partnered with eight different banks to bring this technology to their commercial customers, which is installed at their premises such as supermarkets.

Helps businesses with cash flow challenges

Businesses in Uganda stand to benefit from the smart safe for two key reasons. Firstly, many companies face regular cash flow challenges and have a genuine need to access money as soon as possible. With Deposita, cash is credited to their accounts and available to use (such as paying for additional stock items or other business expenses) while still physically on their premises.

Secondly, many businesses in Uganda rely on overdrafts to operate but the country’s high interest rates (currently over 17%) means fees can escalate quickly. Having quick access to cash makes a real difference to their profitability.

Cost savings and fraud

The smart safe brings many cost savings in itself, not least that it reduces the effort and expense associated with preparing cash for banking (namely tallying up takings at the end of each day).

And because G4S fully insures the cash once it’s in the smart safe, businesses don’t have to worry about insurance cover – and it reduces the number of cash collections that companies pay for.

It helps to stamp out internal and external fraud, too. When businesses get their customers to pay for services and products directly through the safe, infrared and UV note validation sensors can detect counterfeit or damaged notes.

Deposita also reduces the opportunity for staff to commit theft (a relatively common issue) as they no longer have to tally their takings at the end of their shift. In turn, companies benefit from lower fidelity cover costs – another saving for them.

Testing and integration process

Prior to installation, a testing and integration process is completed with each bank to ensure Deposita can be fully synced with their operating systems.

Each safe is fitted with various security measures to make them tamper proof, but can also be tailored to meet the clients’ individual needs and programmed to recognise any currency. Over 20 such safes have now been installed at different locations across the country, including Lira, Jinja and Kampala.

Smart branches

The smart safe has been developed by Deposita, a business owned by G4S’s parent company Allied Universal that is based in South Africa. They produce a range of solutions across retail, wholesale and banking that automate the collection, handling, processing, safeguarding and dispensing of cash.

Next, G4S is planning to open a series of smart branches in Uganda which will enable banks to offer more of its commercial clients use of Deposita Devices – not just those with one installed at their premises.

G4S intends to roll out Deposita to distributors as well, which many of the largest companies in the Ugandan economy operate through. By installing it at their premises, sales can be immediately reflected in their bank account, allowing them to purchase more products and so reduce the risk of ever being out of stock.

Allen Ssebugwawo, Managing Director of G4S in Uganda, says: ‘In addition, using Deposita instills financial discipline because funds for a particular business line are banked in the specific bank account for it. This reduces the risk of funds being diverted to other businesses, which could impact the original distribution business.”