Finding a place for the ATM in a digital payment world

Matt Grant, Business Development Director, RealVNC

Digital payments have been steadily increasing since the introduction of the contactless card, with new methods of digital transactions growing in popularity. The traditional ATM has now become a reminder of the way we used to interact with money, and many of its traditional services face stiff competition from digital transactions.

Matt Grant
Matt Grant

With LINK’s plans to cut fees on ATM use, we could see thousands of cashpoints disappear from the high street over the next few years. This could potentially accelerate the decline of town centres and alienate older customer demographics. Yet if banks wish to keep ATMs open and retain older and more lucrative customer demographics while also appealing to the millennials, many recognise that they will have to fundamentally rethink the future role of ATMs.

Some pioneering financial institutions are developing systems with the aim to streamline ATMs so that they remain relevant in a new world of digital payments. One example where this is evident is the ‘cardless cashpoint’. A number of banks have introduced ATMs where there is no need for customers to actually have their bank card with them so as to replicate the ease of contactless and mobile payments. Logging into their banking apps, customers can choose a transaction type before they get to the ATM, making the machine easier and much quicker to use.

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Additionally, there are possible strategies for eliminating digital identification processes altogether when it comes to ‘logging in’ to an ATM. Some banks are developing systems which use facial and fingerprintrecognition technology to allow customers to access their accounts. Their objective in using biometrics is clear – to make it as safe as possible to use cashpoints, while also offering a frictionless customer experience. It is through these measures that financial institutions can ensure that ATMs remain relevant in a connected world.

These new innovations however do bring into question how secure cashpoints are, especially when combining financial and biometric data. At a time where electronic fraud such as ‘ATM jackpotting’is at an all-time high,it is vital to the success of ATMs that their networks are secure and trusted by the general public. As ATMs begin to play a role in the digital revolution, there is clearly a need to ensure that sensitive data is secure enough to reduce the threat of cyber-attacks and safeguard customer data and finances.

Many financial institutions are now using remote access software to facilitate greater ATM network security, as it provides an efficient way to update and protect the machines quickly and efficiently. It does this by enabling engineers to remotely perform updates to an entire estate and even update operating systems, ensuring ATMs across the country are equipped with the latest software and patches to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.Crucially, they can remote into an ATM from a central service centre staffed with a highly skilled team to analyse unusual behaviour and remove malware or combat a cyber-attack in real-time.

Another key challenge throughout this transformation process is to maintain the traditional sense of customer service. In an increasingly automated world, human interaction can be lost in a drive for cost efficiency. With 59% of consumers claiming bad customer service has stopped them returning to a business, banks need to invest in quality customer service, especially those who find it daunting to be faced with new technology. At a time when hundreds of bank branches close, banks see the role of increasingly smarter ATMs as providing the functions of the traditional bank branch.

One way this can be achieved is by creating ‘connected cashpoints’ that enable bank staff to remote into them and actively engage with customers through annotation, text, video and audio.This can be done by applying the remote access technology used in ‘IT help desks’ to ATMs.Users who struggle with the more sophisticated features of a smart ATM can call a support agent directly through the cashpoint, who can then remotely log into the systems and securely guide the customer through their transaction instantly. This includes options to annotate the screen and walk the customer through a complex transaction with real-time audio and video assistance. Applying this already well-established remote access technology to ATMs helps to ensure that banks can continue to provide the personal experience their customers have always expected while reducing the need for in-branch tellers and the burden on call-centre staff.Crucially, remote support would mitigate the fallout from branch closures and provide an extra brand touchpoint for consumers to interact with banks and maintain long-term relationships.

For ATMs to become more than a relic that reminds us of the way money used to be handled, significant changes must be made. The cashpoint of the future must incorporate a delicate balance of fintech advancements, strong cybersecurity and traditional customer service. By achieving this critical balance of technology and the human touch that ATMs will be seen as the go-to service for financial transactions and have an important place in our smart cities of the future.

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