Why usability is important in driving consumers to the ATM channel

By : Colin Gordon

November 17, 2014 03:22 PM

Al-Hilal-bank-SelfServ32_0617You may be thinking that if the ATM is just a self-service banking terminal that accepts deposits and dispenses cash, why is usability so important?

First of all, usability is important given the huge and growing number of machines. Banks and independent ATM deployers now offer the ability to deposit and withdraw cash at 2.8 million ATMs worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that four million ATMs will be installed globally by 2019. ATMs are cropping up in ever more diverse locations - ATMs are found in shops, hotels, gas stations and airports among other places. It is important that the consumer experience at the ATM is intuitive and fulfilling.

There are two factors which contribute to the actual usage of a particular ATM. These are its location and usability. You won’t use an ATM if it’s not in the right place. But you also won’t use it if it’s hard to work, or doesn’t function the way you want it to.

The average ATM will handle around 2,700 withdrawals each month; but it can be significantly higher, with some handling in excess of 15,000 transactions each month. Given this, ATM usability is important because the greater usage a bank’s ATM receives, the more potential there is for revenue generation and high levels of customer satisfaction. This is why financial institutions should not underestimate the importance of good ATM interface design.

In terms of wider technology, usability is concerned with making systems easy to learn and easy to use. For ATMs the more user-friendly, the more it’s worth more to the consumer. Good usability means customers spend less time using the ATM, which can mean less waiting times at busy locations and ultimately higher levels of consumer satisfaction.

There have been improvements in the usability of ATMs over the years but this is something now of growing importance. As technology changes, the ATM interface is evolving also to take advantage of the many new technological innovations and different levels of consumer interactions, such as multi-touch and pinch and swipe.

The modern ATM should be flexible, expressive and easier to use. Good ATM interface design can help ensure that users carry out their self-service banking transaction in an efficient, effective, safe and pleasurable manner. This has a number of benefits:

  • Efficiencies – As ATM menus improve, this makes ATM use more efficient. For example, users don’t want to spend five minutes trying to find the correct way to insert their card and type their PIN and the amount of cash they want and then eventually leave without remembering to take their card with them.
  • Effectiveness – the user gets what they want from the system-- if an ATM user requests $100 cash, the user should get $100 and not $50
  • Safety – this is important for safety-critical software systems for minimizing risks from security threats such as cash-trapping and malware attacks and ultimately inspiring consumer trust
  • Enjoyable – ATMs should be attractive and inviting. Generally if an ATM is effective and efficient to use, it should also be enjoyable to use.

With ATM transaction volumes and the value withdrawn increasing, usability and the consumer experience will become more important in ensuring the ATM continues as a dominant self-service channel for consumers to get their cash.

Learn more about NCR Financial solutions.

Colin Gordon

Financial Services SelfServ, Marketing Manager

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Colin Gordon is a Global ATM Marketing Manager based at NCR’s R&D Center in Dundee, Scotland. Colin is responsible for the marketing of NCR’s financial hardware portfolio with a specific focus on activities such as demand generation, sales enablement, market analysis and customer engagements for the ATM business.