The number of traditional bank branches in the UK continues to decline, driven by changing consumer behaviour and the continued adoption of new technologies. So pronounced has the shift become that the UK now has more than one ‘app bank’ – a bank with a range of services, but no branches and whose primary interface with their customers is not through a website or telephone call centre, but through a mobile banking application. In the real world in which most people live, however, there is a range of financial services that require a physical interface.
Cash use and ATM deployment continues to grow in the UK. Figures from Payments UK clearly demonstrate that cash withdrawals are rising at about 3% every year and the number of ATM now exceeds 70,000. This huge infrastructure will continue to be a primary interface between people and their banks. There are opportunities for banks to extract more value and provide better service to their customers using what some consider an ‘old-fashioned’ channel if they can integrate it into their online, mobile and branch – omnichannel – strategy.
People are familiar and comfortable with ATMs as a way of accessing their bank. The LINK scheme, which networks almost all UK ATMs, means that cash withdrawal, mini-statements and mobile phone top-ups are nearly universally available across the country i.e. any card holder can use any machine. This is obviously of growing importance at a time when traditional bank branches are being closed and access to financial services is becoming more difficult for some.
The problem is that the UK’s ATM fleet currently offers a relatively limited range of transactions when compared to some Continental European countries. This limits their suitability as a replacement for traditional bank branches. That in turn makes it harder for small businesses, and retailers in particular, to do business. It also increases the risk of financial exclusion for some demographic groups.
“The Government wants …
intelligent cash machines.”
Smart ATMs have the potential to deliver improved customer service, which can drive greater customer loyalty whilst cutting the costs for the financial service provider. Ensuring that customers remain loyal is increasingly important as new banks and non–traditional entrants, such as the FinTech companies, enter the market. This is increasing competition, and making it easier to buy services from other providers. Empowering the ATM channel by adopting Smart ATMs are part of the answer, ensuring that customers can get what they need from their bank, thereby reducing the incentives to go elsewhere.
Smart ATMs can of course be located anywhere. In fact the UK’s 70,000 ATMs are spread across the country in every conceivable location, from bank branches to rural convenience stores and post offices. This geographical spread provides more financial services access points than was ever achieved by bank branches, even in their heyday.
The costs of deploying a Smart ATM in a kiosk or similar location are of course far lower than traditional branches – and often a similar range of services can be offered especially if supported by a modern web-based architecture and the latest Assisted Self-service Devices/Assisted Self-Service Terminals (ASD/ASST), with document scanners, tablets, digital screens and cash and cheque deposit facilities.
This is already a proven model, working well in other European countries, most notably in Italy where Auriga has more than 67% of the market. Knowing that the system works well and has been tried and tested provides reassurance that this is not a risky strategy and that it meets customers’ needs, enhances service, whilst providing precise cost savings. Banks already embracing this approach have found that increasing the range of services enhances customers’ loyalty, and at a time when we see more account switching, it can attract new customer.
The UK would be the ideal environment for Smart ATMs and yet the uptake is patchy, at best. In part this is because where Smart ATMs have been deployed by banks, mainly in their own branches for use by their own customers. Most ATMs in the UK are, however provided by independent ATM deployers, who don’t have their own customers, per se. In order for the independent ATM deployers to make Smart ATMs available, LINK would have to agree a service fee, and there is little prospect of that happening at present unfortunately. That means that for the foreseeable future Smart ATMs are probably only going to be deployed by banks, probably in their own reconfigured branches.
The range of new and innovative services that can be offered on Smart ATMs has the potential to be huge. Cash withdrawal, balance enquiries, PIN change and mobile phone top-up are already available on many devices in the UK. In future however it could be that automated cheque deposit, note and coin deposit and recycling, cardless withdrawals, overdraft applications, fund transfers, Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) services, bill payment services, adjustment of credit ceilings, change of address or other personal details, exchange rate checks, utility payment check, making international payments, payment of TV license fees, payment of traffic fines and other local Council bills, loan simulation to calculate the cost of small loans, addition of users to an account, emailing the bank, requesting cheque books or appointment with your personal adviser etc. are all possible with Auriga’s WinWebServer (WWS) software.
Auriga’s vision for customer-centric banking
Auriga is already delivering these and many more services on ATMs and ASDs/ASSTs in Italy and soon in a number of other countries.
This software is already well proven, providing services to millions of bank customers across Europe, whilst enabling banks to make significant cost reductions and offer an improved, consistent, personalised customer experience.
ATMs powered by Auriga’s WWS software can support machines from multiple hardware vendors and can sit happily on top of banks’ existing IT systems, reducing the need for complex re-engineering. It is also fully integrated into the WWS ‘omnichannel’ service proposition. This means that the customer’s experience online, at the ATM and in-branch are seamless and integrated. This produces a highly personalised and impactful interaction between customer and bank. In some ways this restores the sense that the bank is looking after its customers, recognising them, taking their needs into account and seeing them as more than just a source of revenue by providing them a personalised and contextualised service.
WWS is fully integrated across all platforms, so the customer has a seamless, personalised experience from mobile to the ATM and in the branch. The relationship between the bank the customer is therefore far more personal and cohesive.
WWS is fundamentally about putting the person back into the heart of the relationship between a customer and his or her bank. Technology becomes not a barrier, separating the bank from the public, but an enabler allowing more positive and rewarding experiences for both parties.
We believe this is the future of ATMs – and the future of banking.