As retail banking branches transform to become more service-oriented channels in the coming years, the ATM will also have to step up to handle more of the transactional interactions that make up the majority of most people’s contact with their bank.
This will present a new challenge as financial institutions look to streamline these operations. Many of these ATMs will be away from traditional branches, where opportunities to engage customers and promote the bank’s brand and varied services are more limited.
Harnessing the off-premise ATM
A recent white paper published by ATM Marketplace highlighted the growing importance of off-premise ATMs as a key part of a bank’s strategy. It found that nearly half of financial institutions (48 percent) expect their ATM fleet to grow at the same time as their branch footprint shrinks.
Research by Retail Banking Research also confirms the importance of the off-premise ATM in attracting customers. The Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2021 reports that almost 1.6 million (50 percent) of the 3.2 million ATMs globally are located off-premise. In fact for the last four years, almost 100,000 new off-premise ATMs have been installed globally in locations such as supermarkets, malls, rail stations or fuel stations.
This highlights that off-premise ATMs will become an increasingly common way for people to interact with their banks – so these machines will need to offer much more than just cash withdrawals and deposits in order to meet customer expectations and offer a self-service solution that can more closely replicate what customers would expect from a branch.
Billy Arnold, ATM operations manager at Iberia Bank, said that off-premise ATMs will need to be viewed as the future of the remote branch. This means being “not just a cash terminal in a convenience store, but a critical delivery channel to help extend the bank’s footprint, brand and services”.
If ATMs are expected to handle many more transaction types, such as bill payments account openings or investment management, they will need to operate more as a fully-fledged extension of a bank’s branch – especially if they are operating in locations where traditional branches are few and far between.
Turning ATMs into ambassadors for your brand
As well as providing a full range of services, this also means that ATMs will have to function as a key ambassador for a bank’s brand, as they may often be the only offline contact a customer has. But what does this mean in practical terms?
For starters, the branding and messaging delivered through these channels needs to be clear, relevant and engaging to attract consumers. The newest generation of ATMs such as the NCR SelfServ 80 Series offer a range of features to help with this, such as large, colorful touch screens that grab users’ attention and make it easy to deliver interesting, personalized messages.
However, new ATMs also need to offer the latest functionality that consumers expect, such as mobile capabilities, if they are to effectively represent a bank as an up-to-date, advanced brand. This may be particularly true in parts of Asia and Africa where smartphones are many people’s primary means of accessing the internet.
Elsewhere, video capabilities will be another key feature if financial institutions are to extend their reach to locations where full branches are not practical. However, setting up self-service oriented kiosks where customers can enjoy remote face-to-face interactions with a skilled adviser is a great way to enhance the capabilities of an ATM and bring a bank’s brand to as many people as possible.
In places where many customers may find it difficult to visit a physical branch, bringing similar services to them in the form of video technology is one of the best ways for banks to maintain their presence in more remote communities.