Even as new forms of electronic payments explode on the scene, we continue to hear it: Cash is king. Consumers rely on it. In fact, a new survey found nine out of 10 consumers used cash in past six months while just over half used digital payments in that timeframe. Experts from across the landscape, domestic to international, agree a cashless society would be rife with problems.
For the banked consumer, the ATM is the most popular means of getting to their paper money. ATM Marketplace recently surveyed 1,000 ATM users and found nearly a third of U.S. consumers use an ATM at least once a week.
As one of the earliest use cases for digital transformation, the ATM has evolved over its fifty years in existence to offer even more than cash withdrawls. Network innovators, like CO-OP Financial Services, continue to push the boundaries of the now-ubiquitous channel. They view the ATM as a golden opportunity to provide even more seamless, even more secure financial experiences to consumers.
“The ATM presents a great innovation model for the industry,” said Todd Clark, President/CEO of CO-OP. “It’s half a century old, and yet ongoing innovation keeps the device a critical touchpoint for consumers. CO-OP – provider of the nation’s largest credit union-owned network of ATMs – is offering enhancements for terminal driving services as part of our own continuous iteration of the platform.”
So what does the digital consumer want from the ATM? Trends indicate preferences fall into four basic categories:
- Make it Easy!
Crunched for time, ATM users increasingly value touchscreens and simple navigation. A growing best practice is a screen that echoes a smartphone display so that digitally-driven members are presented with a familiar experience.
Features, too, should be intuitive. One example of an ATM feature that provides a fast, simple experience is the upfront balance inquiry option. This type of feature allows members to perform a balance inquiry before making other transactions.
- Make it Safe!
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of their money. According to ATM Marketplace, skimming and other scams have shaken public trust in the safety and security of ATMs. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for ATMs to inspire confidence.
As PINs and passwords become more cumbersome and less effective, consumers are beginning to question their value at the ATM. Biometrics seem to have captured their curiosity as a possible alternative. A recent survey found 34 percent would like to see a fingerprint, palm print or facial recognition technology eventually replace PIN entry.
While the industry works toward that goal, it’s important to continue making incremental improvements in the security of the ATM. Even simple adjustments can add to the confidence consumers have in their self-banking experience. CO-OP ATMs, for example, can now be configured to return a credit union member’s debit card before dispensing the cash requested. This dramatically reduces the number of cards inadvertently left behind for the benefit of an opportunistic thief.
- Make it Seamless!
The Internet of Things, smart devices and 24×7 connectivity has generated an “always on, always connected” anticipation among ATM users. That expectation goes beyond cash withdrawls. Financial consumers are increasingly demanding that self-service go farther, seamlessly integrating with their in-branch, at-home or on-the-go banking experiences.
Nearly 40 percent of consumers polled said they’d like to make deposits at the ATM and have them instantly credited to their account. Another 32 percent said they’d like a check-cashing solution from their ATM. A growing number of consumers are interested in even more complex transactions at the ATM, such as loan applications, account opening, cashier’s checks and replacement card requests.
To meet demand for more complex self-banking transactions, CO-OP ATMs can now be configured to offer the functionality of shared branching on select Diebold machines, providing full account access and transaction capabilities normally requiring a live teller.
- Make it Free!
When asked how important access to a fee-free ATM was to them, nearly 80 percent of the 2017 ATM Marketplace survey respondents said it was either very important (34%) or essential (45%). What’s more, 77 percent report that every ATM they visit must be fee-free, even if it means having to go further to find one.
For credit unions, this represents a massive opportunity to capitalize on a competitive advantage. That’s because nationwide, it costs consumers an average of $4.69 to withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM. That’s up 2.6 percent from just a year ago!
Although the ATM is farther down the road in its digital transformation journey, it remains a legacy channel, one that must continuously evolve to meet the needs of the digital consumer. CO-OP’s ongoing evolution of this self-service banking channel, including enhanced member experience tools and sophisticated teller automation, will be an important part of our commitment to empowering credit unions with the tools to compete in a rapidly-transforming digital environment.