Madness in the midday sun: Time-to-cash is all that matters

Monday, September 11, 2017

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Company: ATM Industry Association

By Richard Buckle on

I am back at work and picking up the pace once again. This has been "the summer of our discontent" as Margo and I for a couple of months have been "homeless."

Having sold our home of 20 years, we have built a new home well north of it, which has meant moving from Boulder to just east of Fort Collins.

This summer, with one home sold and the next not ready for occupancy, my wife and I turned to the RV that we call our "Company Command Center" and drove to numerous user and industry events, enjoying for a brief spell the life of fulltime RVers.

What followed was a constant hand-in-pocket for emergency funds, as barely a day passed that we weren't called upon to pay for this or that. Out on America's highways, there is an entire industry ready to provide assistance — as long as you pay in cash.

In the recent webinar introducing the 2017 ATM and Self-service Software Trends report, it wasn't surprising to see multidenomination dispensing as a top feature to be supported by future ATMs.

But what really got our attention were the many extra steps you now have to take to get cash from an ATM. The interrogation lasts for several screens as we are prompted for this and that when all we wanted was cash.

At the height of summer in the American Southwest, spending extra time under the blazing sun isn't exactly fostering good customer relations at the ATM.

We all are witnessing the grief at the POS following the introduction of chip cards, as the number of separate transactions to be negotiated has climbed from one or two to as many as 16.

For crying out loud, can't we get a big button on the POS device that simply says, "Take the money from the account tied to the card and let's get on with it!"

To see this same transaction creep beginning to take place at the ATM is more than bothersome. It means that very few institutions are paying attention to the majority of account holders. For me, it's all about speed and the "time-to-cash" metric!

Over the summer I have done a lot of work for payments solution provider, OmniPayments. Ever so gradually they have grown their business to the point where up and down the western hemisphere customers are running the company's solution in support of switches, POS networks and ATMs.

According to one industry analyst I have been working with of late, one of the key benefits of running OmniPayments solutions is that they "answer only to their customer." This simply means that they deliver features and capabilities that make the process of interacting with end users so much easier.

And given all the time we have spent on the road of late, seeing firsthand the evolving nature of customer interactions, I have to wonder why any financial institution would invest in its own IT infrastructure and human skillset to keep up with the rapidly evolving world of computing.

Since the first payments systems appeared in support of switches, POS devices and ATM networks, the assumption was that you selected a package and threw together the necessary hardware to run the solution. But is this still the case?

With the move to SaaS on the way to full implementation of a cloud offering, OmniPayments expected that running payments solutions off-premises and out of a cloud would appeal only to those customers looking for additional resources for testing and validation.

But even the biggest of financial institutions are beginning to take more seriously such an option. And for good reason. If you're a bank, a retailer, a service provider, why continue to invest in IT?

If all the recent experiences on the road have taught me anything, it is that the art of systems analysis and unearthing business needs has pretty much fallen by the wayside. How else could anyone justify the 16 separate transactions involved in getting my cash?

Those among us who prefer cash need simplified ATM transactions — don't throw screen after screen at me to delay pulling $200 from my account — and if you can't do it yourself or are struggling to keep up, bring in managed service providers or vendors with SaaS or cloud offerings and just get on with it!

It's Arizona and it's 110-plus degrees and I need to get out of the sun. So, just give me the cash!

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