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Economic recession to be front and center topic at ATMIA
As 2008 draws to a close, two dreaded "R" words haunt the minds of many in the financial services industry. Those words are "recession" and "regulation," and experts say they're not going away anytime soon.
 
So when attendees and exhibitors flood into Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Feb. 10-12, for the ATM Industry Association's annual conference, their primary concern may be navigating the uncertain economic times expected in 2009.
 
Kurt Helwig, chief executive of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association, says the U.S. government's $700 billion bailout will have far-reaching effects, one of which will be intense scrutiny of the financial services industry.

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"Every business that provides some kind of service to or touches a bank will be looked at very closely," he said. "Now you have legislators and regulators who are stakeholders — they have an equity play in this business now."
 
And that equity could lead to any number of things, Helwig says, from a stricter stance on prepaid card dispensing and distribution to a ceiling on ATM-surcharging fees.
 
About the show:
 
The ATM Industry: Change in Composition
 
Feb. 10-12
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Nashville, Tenn.
 
For more information, contact Dana Benson.
 
It's an issue and concern he will address during his panel discussion at the conference. ATM regulatory implications related to the new Congress and government administration will be the focus.
 
Charles Klingman, deputy director of critical infrastructure protection and compliance policy for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, also will be seated on the panel. He says the panel will focus on regulatory changes at the federal level that could affect payments globally, as well as within the ATM industry itself.
 
Cindy Habeeb, ATMIA's U.S. manager, says this year's event is centered on the ATM industry coming together for a new future by inviting open communication and conveying experience, lessons and understanding.
 
"The speakers and panelists will truly provide the ATM market with information and tools ATM players need to be armed with to maneuver their businesses through the year ahead," she said.
 
The Nashville conference will be the only conference hosted by ATMIA in 2009. In September, when show organizers abandoned the idea of ATMIA's annual U.S. security show, ATMIA West, they said the February show would be geared to bring in higher attendance and exhibitor numbers. Habeeb says show organizers maintain those expectations.  
 
Mobile payments to take center stage
 
Regulatory changes and their impact on the ATM business are a focus, but this year ATMIA is reaching out to touch complementary banking services, such as mobile and prepaid. And the conference has added a new session this year focused on enhanced cash services, "The Potential for Cash Recycling at ATMs in Mature Markets Like the U.S."
 
The Feb. 12 presentation will review the benefits reaped in other markets, such as Asia, from cash-recycling ATMs. Cash recycling can reduce cash replenishments for on-premises and off-premises ATMs and increase ATM uptime. With increases in envelope-free cash deposits at ATMs in the United States, recycling is becoming an increasingly viable business option, says Hisaaki Tarumoto, director of strategic alliances for OKI Electric America Inc.
 
On Feb. 10, ATMIA is hosting a preconference workshop for mobile-phone security. Susan Kohl, partner at ThoughtKey Inc., and Giff Gfroerer, North American president of i2SMS, will be two of the workshop's speakers.
 
"Last year, we debuted a comprehensive mobile-payments security best practices manual, along with a two-hour presentation to highlight the basics," Kohl said. "This year we will look at the mobile-payments next generation and evolution in a three-hour presentation, with experts discussing a variety of topics."
 
Those topics are expected to include current market features and functionality, a security watch list, fraud trends, and managing mobile security while complying with current and pending regulations. This presentation is tailored toward all payment entities, Kohl said.
 
On Feb. 12, George Peabody of Mercator Advisory Group, will lead a discussion about growing opportunities for text messaging and mobilized prepaid financial services in the mobile space. Peabody will review the complexity surrounding connecting prepaid mobile devices and card accountholders to providers of specific financial services. Mobile-enabled financial services remain fractured, Peabody says — the function of numerous solutions being brought to market from countless program issuers.
 
"Text / SMS usage continues to skyrocket," Peabody said. "U.S. wireless subscribers send and receive more than 105 billion messages each month. That's two per hour, per subscriber. Finding the nearest ATM via a text message is a reality today. Prepaid card programs are employing text messaging for balance inquiries and more. This presentation looks at the mobile innovations in financial services that are in place and on the horizon that use text messaging."
 
How might the mobile channel touch an independent ATM deployer's business? It's a topic ATMIA hopes to address, along with many others, during the Voice of the Industry discussion on Feb. 11.
 
The discussion's panelists will include:
  • Neil Clark, ATM ISO PAI/ATM Express Inc.
  • Wayne Vandekraak, ATM servicer Solvport LLC.
  • Marilyn Kilcrease, consultant.
  • Russ Hinely, Pendum.
  • Leland Englebardt, MasterCard.
  • Mike Cowart, RBSLynk/Worldpay.
"Continued consolidation in the industry is changing the ISO landscape for services such as technical service, armored services," Vanderkraak said. "Increased ATM functionality equals increased machine complexity, which, in turn, is leading to increased on-site repair times and tech-skill-set requirements."
 
How that complexity and changing environment might affect each ATM player is expected to be a discussion focus.

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