For an industry that is slow to change, selling the notion that advanced functions are the way of the ATM's future hasn't been easy for Tranax Technologies Inc. Equipment expense, consumer adoption, software enhancements and transaction complexity have all hindered the adoption of advanced ATM functions.
Though consumer savvy and software capabilities have improved since ATM deployers first tried their hands at things like ticket dispensing some five years ago, independent sales organizations have remained gun shy.
A number of the distributors at Tranax's 2007 Summer Summit, which ran July 12-13, said basic cash-dispensing ATMs are still their No. 1 interest. But even the most reluctant agree times are changing. Story continues below...
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Moving the ATM beyond basic cash dispense is something leaders at Tranax has been talking about for a long time. It's a concept Dr. Hansup Kwon, president and chief executive of the Newark, Calif.-based ATM and kiosk provider, has spent the last several years working to perfect.
"Our vision is very simple," Kwon said. "We design products that meet the needs of the customer."
Like the ATM, Kwon says financial kiosks can provide convenience, if the services make sense. For the last three years, Tranax has worked to identify and perfect financial services that make sense for the self-service channel. And Kwon says Tranax's experience in the market has given it a true advantage.
"These aren't things we're just talking about," he said. "These are things we are doing now with partners in the market."
Partners like TIO Networks Corp., Vero Inc., Columbus Data Services and Livewire International are working with Tranax to perfect self-service bill-payment, check-cashing, card-dispensing and ticketing offerings. During Tranax's 2006 distributors' conference in Lake Tahoe, Nev., Kwon said Tranax had some real-world deployments that build on those services that were gaining traction - proving that the right types of advanced functions could be deployed successfully in the market.
During Tranax's 2007 conference, the self-service message was the same.
"The biggest difference this year (at the conference) is that everything we are presenting is our own product line," Kwon said. "For the first time, we have more self-service terminals than ATMs. And all of the ATMs we have here, with the exception of the Mini-Bank 1700, are now self-service capable. That's a big difference."
Where kiosk meets ATM
Jeffrey Lee, Tranax's director of product management, says Tranax has found a way to bridge the functionality gap.
"We're bringing kiosk functionality to the ATM," Lee said.
During its Summer Summit, Tranax unveiled a line of upgrade kits it soon plans to release to the market. The company would not give a specific release date, saying the launch of the kits would depend on feedback from distributors.
The kits can be used to upgrade existing ATMs, including those with embedded boards or Windows CE, to provide advanced self-service offerings.
ATMs already running Windows XP won't require much of an upgrade, Lee said, since the platform that Tranax uses to connect to its service providers runs on XP.
"The whole challenge in enabling the ATM for SSD (self-service-device) capabilities is that different Tranax ATMs will have different requirements to upgrade them," Lee said.
ATMs running XP will basically only need to add a sidecar, Lee said.
But the upgrades go beyond just so-called SSD capabilities. Tranax is providing upgrades for the addition of touchscreens and color displays as well. By the end of the year, the company expects to release upgrades for most of its CE ATMs. Lee said the enhancements will offer ISOs more advertising opportunities.
"This will solve a lot of problems," Lee said. "You don't have to make the machine a PC, you just have to add a screen. It's going to be a very easy fix."
Selling upgrade kids for advanced functions is a revolutionary notion that answers many market demands, including the need to keep the cost of providing advanced functions low.
Kwon said Tranax has worked to respond to market demands.
"Over the past several years we've been emphasizing SSD capabilities, and all of Tranax's ATMs are now SSD capable," Kwon said. "The current and future products are SSD capable, and that is the differentiator for us. This is a very important strategy."
Products on display:
The TK 1000 stands for "transactional kiosk," a point Tranax is quick to make. The goal: to differentiate the TK 1000 from informational kiosks in the market today. The kiosk runs on XP and can come equipped with the ability to accept bills, dispense cards and print tickets. It comes standard with a card reader, 15-inch LCD touchscreen, digital security camera and topper.
The Hybrid ATM with HK 2000 combines the Mini-Bank x4000 with an HK 2000 sidecar for advanced services such as bill payment and its newest offering, prepaid-card dispensing. Tranax recently partnered with CDS to offer Zippay, an ATM-based gift-card program that allows consumers to buy gift cards with cash, debit or credit at an ATM.
Tranax's Bill Payment Kiosk is a TK 1000 that only offers bill-payment services. The company began shipping the Bill Payment Kiosk, which connects deployers to billers through TIO's bill-payment platform, in 2006.
The Mini-Bank e4000 with voice guidance for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance provides basic cash dispense.
The Mini-Bank c4000 is a cash dispenser that's ready for upgrades, should deployers want to add additional functions. It comes standard with a 32-bit color LCD and can be upgraded from Windows CE to XP.
Tranax's Mini-Bank x4000 takes an additional step toward advanced functionality. It comes standard with a 12.1-inch color touchscreen and can easily be upgraded with a sidecar to offer more services. It comes standard with XP.
The Mini-Bank 1700 is Tranax's replacement for the Mini-Bank 1500 now distributed only by Nautilus Hyosung Inc. (Nautilus now calls it the NH 1500.)