ATMs Reinvented

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

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Company: ATM Industry Association

Just over five decades after the world’s first ATM was installed in London, conditions have converged to make the reinvention of the ATM inevitable. Next Gen ATMs are an idea, or vision, whose time has come.

A Next Gen ATM is an app-based ATM and it’s thought that both the quality and number of transactions at ATMs will increase when customers can transact with their mobile devices instead of a plastic card. 

It’s a well-known fact of business that technology needs to stay relevant. For our industry, this means, above all, that ATMs must be integrated into the mobile-digital world in which most of humanity now lives. We should also be able to fit ATMs into a world which is highly interconnected based on the ‘Internet of Things’.

If this doesn’t happen, our industry might be left stranded on the wrong side of history within this decade. In a society with an accelerated pace of change, future- proofing to stay relevant becomes even more important. We need seamless, highly interoperable ATM ecosystems which are nimble and flexible enough to adapt to changing technologies and consumer habits, providing a growing range of services in addition to cash access.

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a more hygiene-conscious society as the new normal. Customers are more conscious of touching things. Just as one tends to ask how many clicks does an online transaction take, so we now might subconsciously ask, how many touches are involved in such and such a physical transaction?

Next Gen ATM transactions will be carried out with fewer touches than traditional card-based transactions.

The Next Gen ATM ecosystem, with a mix of standard interfaces, APIs and provider-specific interfaces, will enable fast, pre-staged transactions for an increased range of services, from cash withdrawals to cryptocurrency-to-cash, or cash-to-cryptocurrency, conversions. We are likely to see the emergence of Central Bank Digital Currencies in years to come, including digital euros, dollars and pounds, among others. There is likely to be a strong demand for digital currency services at ATMs.

Reaching a crossroads

Our industry has reached a crossroads. We will either confidently embrace a ‘phygital’ future – both physical and digital – or retreat into a slow and gradual decline.

For industry stakeholders willing to take a shot at this reinvention of the ATM, it’s exciting that the business case for Next Gen ATMs has identified 44 specific aspects that can reduce costs, increase revenue, and enhance brand value and competitiveness. The project’s business case matrix provides a formula for each revenue and cost element to expedite calculation of the financial impact on any given business within all the sectors of the industry. Supporting the business case matrix are interactive financial worksheets that enable a company to calculate the potential long-term Return on Investment (ROI) for migrating to the Next Gen architecture with its increased flexibility, functionality, capacity and potential for enriching the customer experience.

There’s a good argument about timing, too. It’s a time of migration anyway for the industry, with moves to new W10 operating systems or Linux ATMs. As WinCE reaches its sunset as an operating system for low-cost ATMs in 2023, further migrations to new operating systems will be needed. Why not migrate to a future-proofed model for ATMs at the same time by bundling a dual migration?

Encouraging milestones

There have been a few encouraging milestones announced recently as this multi-year industry project now reaches its culmination. At the end of October, for example, the 400th company joined the Consortium for Next Gen ATMs, up from 295 at the beginning of this year, a growth of 105 new companies in 10 months. Stakeholders in 55 countries are now represented in the Next Gen Consortium.

And, on 19 November, the online self- certification system for Next Gen ATM certification went live. This means we could be a few weeks away from the world’s first certified Next Gen ATM.

Organisations will submit their applications for different levels of certification, based on the approved architectural blueprint and standard interfaces, on the site in the Next Gen portal. The appropriate test cases/ test scripts will then be uploaded and sent to the applicants, so they can execute the test cases.

The average test cycle per level of certification for Next Gen is likely to be about two weeks. During that time, the status of the application will be recorded as ‘pending’. Once the test cases have been completed and returned, they will be approved if compliant with the architecture. Then an automated certification badge will be generated on the system.

The project’s Implementation Guide 2.0 2020 version has just been signed off and has been posted on the portal for a three- month public consultation period ending 31 January 2021. This version includes the 2020 annual blueprint review. This year we incorporated a review of the new CEN XFS4IoT standard in its preview format, a standard which will supply the lower level API for Next Gen ATMs. The higher level API is a unique Next Gen standard which will allow for rich, app-based customer experiences at ATMs.

Most needed Next Gen functionalities

Many participants in the Next Gen Consortium are either in the research phase or development phase in their Next Gen journeys, but there are also a dozen or so companies pre-registered on the certification system, which has just gone live. The various technical and functional committees of the project have highlighted the Next Gen ATM functionalities most needed in the market, including ‘cash in’ and ‘cash out’, with coin support, as well as the cryptocurrency buying and selling functionality already mentioned.

So Next Gen ATMs will offer coin support as part of cash in and cash out, playing to the traditional strength of ATMs as a delivery channel for cash services. But they will be fully empowered, at the same time, for digital transactions.

The ATM industry can be proud of its progress in the universally difficult year of 2020 by coming together, across 55 nations and across all sectors, to reach consensus on the way forward for the next generation of production and service to millions of customers.

Original article on Cash and Payment NewsVisit to download your free copy of the November newsletter

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