The Barcode Boss: GS1 Standardization is Bringing Transparency to Cash Logistics

Every time you purchase a product online, you receive a code and tracking information so you can check on the status of your order and the location of that purchase through the delivery process. There’s complete transparency from purchase to delivery, and the code is ultimately what gives you access to that information. Aside from knowing when your product will be delivered, the tracking system ensures safety and also holds the merchant accountable for efficiency. That barcode and tracking system was created by a non-profit organization called GS1.

European financial institutions have used GS1 for cash management for some time – in fact, many European central banks have made it an official mandate. Now those same GS1 standards are being adopted by U.S. FIs. With a unique code assigned to each bill and cashpoint along the way, GS1 is poised to change the way funds are monitored and expedited across North America.

What could this mean for service quality? How could this give your Ops team a tool for improving security? And how could GS1 help banks optimize the cash cycle? These are important questions to consider as GS1 becomes more prevalent in the U.S.

What Is GS1, Exactly?

The GS1 is a neutral, not-for-profit organization that develops and maintains global standards for business communication. GS1 is best known for the barcode. (Did you know that more than six billion barcodes are scanned every day?) GS1 creates a language that identifies, captures and shares key information about products, locations and more. The ultimate goal of this language is to improve efficiency, safety and visibility of supply chains. In banking, GS1 could bring greater transparency and efficiency to cash logistics.

For banks, introducing GS1 standards means giving codes to orders and looking at currency as a product. For example, an order for 100 notes of $20s would be given a code. Now, the order is traceable. The order becomes a “cash package.” You order a box of bundled notes; you get a code you can track.

GS1 and FIs

GS1 is already widely adopted by FIs in Europe, and GS1 U.S. is working with the FI community here to develop standards for logistics that impact cash users and businesses. GS1 says benefits include improved data accuracy and less manual entry. Plus, there’s intelligence: getting information on the status and value of cash in transit (CIT), and real-time access to cash movement. Overall cash visibility can be elevated with standardized coding that gives FIs and users tracking capabilities.

The key to making the system work is having the software in place to monitor the GS1 tracking info throughout the process and support the electronic interfaces defined by GS1. For example, if a bank wants to return residuals (surplus cash) they should be able to create a barcode they can apply to the shipment from their branch to the cash center or the national bank; or automatically order more cash from the Federal Reserve or central bank (depending on the country) through an integrated interface; or remotely monitor the journey of a stack of notes, with the CIT service scanning the barcodes when they drop off or pick up cash. Diebold Nixdorf’s Cash Cycle Optimizer offers this connectivity and visibility, and even integrates with current CIT scanners that are widely used today.

In other words, GS1 offers the standardization, but banks don’t get the full benefit of it unless they have the tools and infrastructure to fully support it. You can have all the barcodes you want, but if they’re not being scanned and tracked, then they’re just decorations.

Tracking Cash with GS1

The barcode system can help bankers and retailers by giving them a basis to track cash end-to-end. There are generally three types of codes:

  • Product ID: for example, a bundle of unused $1 notes
  • Location code: the location ID of the branch that ordered the cash
  • Shipment code: the unique code number that fulfills the branch’s order

From beginning to end, the cash journey becomes standardized: Everyone is using the same numbering system, with access to a catalogue that outlines the codes. A single stack of bills gets a specific, standardized code, an entire package containing many groups of notes also gets a code, and in that package code is information on where the bills have come from. Bankers can think of it a little bit like the numbers at the bottom of a check, with routing numbers, bank account numbers and the check number all providing critical information.

As a certified GS1 partner, our solutions align with their standards, and help empower FIs to more quickly and easily track and trace funds. We’re ready to help you make the most out of these new initiatives.

You’re already accustomed to product barcodes and tracking products in your daily life. Why not apply this type of transparency and traceability to cash management?

Wondering if your cash management process is as efficient as it could be? Let’s start a conversation today.