ATMs entering open fold

ATMs are taking a leaf out of the PC book and moving to open standard software environments and easier upgrade paths.

ATMs are taking a leaf out of the PC book and moving to open standard software environments and easier upgrade paths.

NCR's PersonaS series of ATMs, launched in Sydney this month, operate on industry-standard technologies, offer OS/2 Warp or NT 4.0 environments and are modular in design to allow them to be upgraded in PC-like fashion rather than replaced wholesale when out of date.

The technology has moved forward in other directions as well, incorporating kiosk-like functions with touch screens, imaging and object oriented software. The move to an object oriented software environment was considered necessary to enable quick application development and deployment to allow owners to run and update special promotions and tailored merchandising through their ATM systems.

In that cause a WYSIWYG authoring and simulation package called SSDS Author has been developed which will be marketed to allow ATM owners to develop their own packages. Owners can add their own objects, developed in C++, to the application.

The units are also at the forefront of a strategy to reintroduce branding to the ATM channel, with an unlimited colour range and modular design. Increasingly, large retail chains are the owners of these machines overseas and the ability to customise the look of the units enables owners to incorporate the machines into their branding strategies.

ATM technology is responding to the perceived imbalance in banking infrastructures where, as Jim Grant, senior vice-president of First Chicago Bank, says, 80% of banking value is outside of the bank structure while two-thirds of the costs of banking reside within that structure.

Jan Burke, NCR's Scotland-based sales support assistant vice-president, says that nobody predicted the speed at which consumers would adopt new non-branch banking technologies such as ATM's and Eftpos. In Australia, non-bank transactions are now exceeding 50% of the total.

The PersonaS series of ATMs is one way to address these issue, allowing banks and other ATM owners (increasingly large retail chains) broaden the functionality and therefore the appeal of the units in the face of competing technologies such as Eftpos. They are also hoped to further reduce in-bank traffic by facilitating cheque deposits (through imaging and feedback).

Lisa O'Keefe, NCR's Australia-based marketing manager of financial systems, estimates the company has around 80% market share for ATMs in New Zealand and the PersonaS development has already been trialed by the Bank of New Zealand.

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