Wednesday, June 16, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the world’s need to transform and adapt self-service banking to meet consumer needs, with smart ATMs playing an essential role.
Globally, 2020 saw rapid and unprecedented changes in the banking sector. Lockdowns, calls for social distancing, and a demand for online banking solutions forced banks and financial services to quickly adapt and restructure their offerings to meet changing customer behaviour and needs, putting the focus on more robust and efficient self-service banking options.
A steep growth in digital banking has also created a more digitally savvy customer who expects more from their ATM than simple cash deposits and withdrawals. A growing number of banks are recognising this, offering a more advanced set of services and transactions at self-service terminals.
The Power of the ATM
The acceleration of digital innovations across all aspects of life – from Zoom calls to Netflix – means customers have quickly become accustomed to fast, intuitive experiences, and now expect the same from their banks and financial institutions, especially in the self-service space like online, mobile banking and ATMs.
While previously the services offered to customers at ATMs was siloed, today’s smarter ATMs serve as an entry point to a range of digital experiences related to all aspects of their finances, including remote personal service. Customers can also engage with the ATM in a variety of ways, beyond inserting a card and tapping in a pin.
Some banks around the world have introduced Intelligent ATMs into their networks which are equipped with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, allowing contactless withdrawals, and FastTrack ATMs, which are completely touch-less. Customers use their mobile phones to conduct transactions, using the bank’s quick codes or mobile banking app before visiting the machine, and then complete the transaction at the machine by tapping an NFC card on the ATM screen.
In the fiercely competitive banking sector, it is imperative that banks and financial institutions recognise the importance of installing smart ATM software that will allow for continued upgrades for future innovations.
Many banks globally have acknowledged the need for the rationalisation of branches and have launched digital transformation programmes, moving many traditional branch banking services to digital channels, including ATMs.
This is in keeping with the trend of creating ‘lean branches’, effectively reducing the number of tellers required to assist customers and carry out services. Lean branches allow banks to optimise service, respond to health concerns for more low and no-touch banking experiences than physical face-to-face interaction with a teller, while also reducing cost, mainly through the installation of self-service teller machines, including VTMs (Video Teller Machines). Installed within the branch, these VTMs allow customers to perform a full range of self-service transactions, including the ability to interact with customer service personnel via live video, maintaining the option for human engagement.
On the African continent for example, where many bank branches are in remote locations, the reduced cost of video banking means branches can stay open – ensuring customers still have access to cash – and maintain financial inclusion; no matter where customers are located, they can have access to specialist advice and information related to their specific needs.
While VTMs had a small foothold in markets pre-COVID, there is already a larger uptake, a trend that is likely to continue. For example, one of Africa’s large bank networks, Absa Bank recently launched in-branch personal digital bankers, facilitating banking transactions and queries within the branch that are powered by artificial intelligence combining face recognition and voice activation to help customers swiftly check balances, pay bills, transfer funds and more. Similarly Access Bank, the largest retail bank in Africa with more than 40 million customers and the largest ATM network in Nigeria, launched FacePay, the first of its kind face recognition payment solution in Africa. “This novel solution digitally automates in-branch transactions and allows customers to carry out transactions within banking halls as a self-service function,” says Access Bank’s CEO Herbert Wigwe.
CR2, a leading provider of Digital, Self-Service and Payment software solutions is helping banks to respond to these dynamics, with the ability to offer ATM services safely, minimising the need to touch the physical ATM, with features such as contactless ATM access over NFC, QR Code access and e-receipts.
Working with 100 banks in 60 countries CR2 assist with the migration of more advanced transactions from the teller to self-service terminals and offer a rich set of capabilities such as those mentioned above, but also:
Similarly, CR2 is seeing demand from banks wishing to provide a more effective and efficient management of their ATM fleet during COVID-19, through use of tools and technologies such as:
There is no doubt that the demand for digital and self-service banking will continue to grow globally, and in many markets ATMs will play a key transformational role in drives for financial and digital inclusion.
Taking all of the above into account, it is imperative that financial institutions ensure ATMs are adapted to deliver an array of safe and efficient banking services and transactions to customers that go beyond cash withdrawals.
Nigel Sutton: [email protected]