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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

ATMs go high tech, high touch at NAC 2019

The National ATM Council’s seventh annual convention, held Oct. 14 to 17, 2019, at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Hotel and Convention Center, was a study in contrasts between original automated teller machines (ATMs) and their next-generation cohorts. Conference highlights included the unveiling of a new mobile-biometric ATM standard, educational panels and keynote addresses, all designed to help independent ATM distributors adapt to changing trends in financial services.

In opening remarks, George Sarantopoulos, NAC chair and CEO at Access One Solutions Inc., said independent ATM owners and deployers will continue to serve underbanked communities as long as they stay focused on the future. “Our conference sessions will challenge you to think about the space our industry needs to occupy 10, 20, 50 years out,” he said. “Imagine yourself as a pioneer in that space.”

Chris Baird, president and CEO at OptConnect, praised NAC for providing a platform for thought leadership and education. “Industry organizations such as NAC play a critically important role in the industry,” he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to gather together and see great industry friends and associates.”

Dispensing cash, societal value

James Shepherd-Barron, son of the original inventor of the ATM in Great Britain, pointed out that ATMs play a critical role during natural disasters, which affect approximately 718,000 people every year, according to recent estimates. “ATMs are not just about dispensing cash, but about dispensing societal value,” he stated. “Multifunctional ATMs can foster resilience, accelerate recovery, promote social inclusion and reduce poverty.”

He urged independent ATM deployers to promote next-generation, multifunctional ATMs, which can support biometrics, video banking and cash and voucher disbursement. In an Oct. 21, 2019, blog post in CashEssentials, titled “Dispensing Value – The Social Utility of the ATM,” Shepherd-Barron paid homage to British cash dispensers, launched in 1967, two years ahead of U.S. ATMs. Both versions have helped eradicate poverty and financial illiteracy, he noted.

“Where ATMs are linked to remote video-tellers or have second screens they can also be used as educational tools,” Shepherd-Barron wrote. “In Kathmandu following Nepal’s devastating earthquake in 2015, ATMs were used by the government to explain how to build back better after an earthquake. In India they are used to promote financial literacy by explaining the costs and benefits of a particular financial product or service.”

Towards interoperability

Bruce Renard, NAC executive director, unveiled a new mobile biometrics standard that uses smartphones instead of plastic credit and debit cards and biometrics instead of PINs. NAC’s working group, which included original equipment manufacturers and ATM service providers, collaborated with the U.S. Payments Forum to create the standard, he stated.

Unlike former proprietary mobile apps that only work in specific bank platforms, the interoperable, biometric solution will work on any ATM in America. “We didn’t want to go through another hardware upgrade,” Renard said. “The new cardless cash guidelines are a software-based change that does not require ATM owners and deployers to re-do their card readers.”

Thanking working group participants, Renard said the software-only solution creates “a world of opportunity in a formerly fragmented network.” He encouraged conference attendees to try the mobile app, stating, “If you download the app and do the demo, real money will come out.”

end of article

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