By : Colin Gordon
In 1977, Citibank received a lot of flak for blanketing New York with ATMs. It was costly and many felt unnecessary; why use a 'soulless' machine when you could speak to a friendly teller?
But barely a year later, that same bank came to the rescue of New Yorkers as a storm covered the city in 17 inches of snow, bringing the entire branch network to a halt with a range of closures.
ATMs were the savior and suddenly everyone realized just how important these machines could be. During the storm, the use of cash machines rose 20 percent overnight. From then on, consumers understood that they could gain access to cash - and later, other financial services - via the ATM at all times of the day and in any weather.
Compared with over 30 years ago, 24/7 access to banking and other financial services is now expected. Mobile and online covers a lot of the bases for people, but a smartphone or tablet using online banking, for example, cannot do everything. Despite electronic payments increasing through the use of smartphones and tablets, these devices still cannot dispense cash bills. Given that cash remains a key part of consumer payments, despite the rise of alternative channels, ensuring the steady supply of notes to customers is essential.
So how do banks manage to keep customers supplied with cash all year round, in all weathers? It takes the right combination of self-service channel management through device management, cash management and end-to-end transaction monitoring by IT and channel operations teams.
It’s a subject that comes up more in the winter. Exposure to extreme weather such as severe cold spells, heavy rain and snow storms can impact and impede service delivery in the ATM channel. All this can affect the availability, uptime and performance of the cash dispenser.
It is therefore vital that from a service and performance perspective, an ATM is easy to maintain and that any components in the ATM can be changed directly in the field. Some of the factors that improve this are having features such as every unit item field replaceable with units in quick and plentiful supply, or alternatively an ATM can also have state of health indicators for easy fault identification and resolution such as those on the NCR S2 Media Dispense Module.
The ATM hardware itself also needs to be capable of dealing with the extremes of temperature and these days ATMs can be found in every corner of the planet, even in the Antarctic. Machines like the NCR SelfServ 28 or NCR SelfServ 37 are proven to operate in temperatures as low as -35c, meaning financial institutions can keep serving their customers no matter the weather.
ATM access is often a key factor in consumers’ selection of a bank. Keeping the ATM network running 24/7/365 is essential for banks in meeting their customer’s expectations, whatever the weather.