Reshape The ATM

As credit unions bring older units up to current standards, they should also consider advanced options that will become more available in the years ahead.

The old if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality might suffice for some, for a while. But when it comes to ATMs, which are one of the most commonly used contact points for a financial institution, letting old technology linger too long can have serious impacts on the brand experience.

A March deadline for compliance with new American With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines has pushed financial institutions to update older ATM units with auxiliary aides such as speech capabilities, Braille, headphone jacks, and blank screen options for security.

As credit unions upgrade and replace units that lag behind, it’s a good time to consider some bleeding-edge features that institutions can invest in or encourage in their own vendor solutions in the years ahead.

No-Touch Interface

Brazilian company Itautec SA has made a big leap forward with its new virtual interface solution. The machine relies on sensors and facial recognition to know when to start and end a session. For security reasons, if someone tries to look at the screen over a user’s shoulder, the session terminates automatically. The use of hand gestures to enter information helps prevents wear and tear to the machine and eliminates unsanitary surface contact. Institutions can also separate the cash-storing portion of the unit from the screen, eliminating the potential for the grab-and-haul ATM thefts that have become more common worldwide.

No-Lie Interface

Russian bank Sberbank is building on the credit-issuing ATMs already in use in the Middle East with a built-in lie detector, reports the New York Timesin their article A Russian A.T.M. With an Ear for the Truth. In addition to providing validation through passport, fingerprint, and facial recognition readers, the unit measures stress levels in the applicant’s response to questions about employment and other topics, helping to weed out fraud.

No-Card Interface

Next-generation solutions like the one from Georgia-based technology company NCR are demonstrating that mobile wallets have a place in this space.

NCR’s solution relies on mobile apps and QR codes to authenticate and process ATM withdrawals without a card or chip, mitigating many potential hardware costs that follow alternatives like NFC. The only additional requirements beyond a normal card-based transaction are a camera-equipped smartphone, the mobile app, and an ATM with updated software.

The user enters a pin code and transaction details such as the account number and the amount of withdrawal into the phone, reducing the chance of onlookers and eliminating the risk of card skimming. Then, users snap a photo of the QR code from the ATM screen, which gives the financial institution the user’s location. From there, the member simply grabs their cash and receives the receipt directly on their phone.

According to NCR, this process is not only safe but also will speed up transactions. Much depends on factors like the technology’s proximity base and potential time out limits for each session, but users might be able to complete a portion of the transaction as they wait in line for the machine.

No-Hassle Interface

High-tech options often come with high-end costs and upkeep, but in some situations, small, simple, sustainable ATMs have the advantage. NCR’s Pillar prototype is a screeenless, self-contained structure with a fingerprint reader for identification and authentication, and a series of color-coded buttons for different denominations. Its simple design has implications for countries where illiteracy or language barriers may be an issue, and versions designed for stateside use might one day be able to read data and identify users through a smartphone NFC solution, reports FastCompany in An ATM To Help Illiterate Populations Save Money.


Image courtesy of NCR
May 29, 2014

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