Is the ATM industry ready for one giant leap?

Feb. 9, 2012 | by Suzanne Cluckey

Dr. Buzz Aldrin and the ATM have at least one thing in common: a 1969 launch. Aldrin blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on July 16 of that year. Seven weeks later, the first ATM in America powered up on Sept. 2 at Chemical Bank in Rockville Centre, N.Y.

The two will be in the spotlight together when Buzz Aldrin presents the keynote speech this month at ATMIA’s U.S. Conference 2012 — The Power of ATMs.

“The successful Apollo 11 moon landing was one of the greatest technological and engineering achievements of all time, showing the power of technology in a unique way,” said ATMIA CEO Mike Lee.

“We are a technology-based industry. We want to reignite enthusiasm for our ATM technology and reconnect to its power after a year of challenges in 2011.”

A few of those challenges:

  • Repercussions from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act;
  • A looming deadline of March 15 for compliance with revised ADA standards that have required fleet-wide hardware and software upgrades;
  • New competition arising from the continued growth of online and mobile banking channels;
  • Questions about the implications of a pending shift from magnetic stripe to EMV bankcards in the U.S.;
  • Uncertainty about the impact of the newly formed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection on regulations and fee structure;
  • A slowdown in ATM installation opportunities due to the financial crisis and a maturing market.

After such a year, “It’s good to listen to someone [who] has gone where very few people have ever gone and experienced things that few people on earth have experienced,” said ATMIA US co-chairman of the board Bill Dunn. Just thinking about the enormity of the task of planning and carrying out the first ever moonwalk “puts the daily challenges of the ATM industry in perspective,” Dunn said. “We think we have issues … "

Aldrin will relate to ATMIA attendees the experience of his momentous walk on the moon. He’ll also explain that while the moonwalk was a remarkable highlight in his career it was not the sum-total of it.

In his address to delegates, Aldrin will share the importance and value of coming down to earth and pursuing newer and more exciting ways to shape the future and “reach for the stars” — a critically important message to those in the industry who may fear that their greatest success lies behind them.

For Aldrin, reaching for the stars has meant looking beyond the moon to work out the next generation of space transportation systems that will allow the U.S. to establish a permanent presence on Mars. In 1969, this seemed like the stuff of comic book fiction. Today, it seems like an achievable goal.

“I hope the speech will inspire [attendees] to understand the value of developing new technologies and exploring new innovation, as well as engaging in mutually valuable partnerships and nurturing strong relationships,” Aldrin said in an interview with ATMmarketplace. “I hope they can take away from his speech that a team working together on every level really can make a difference in the world, just as we did with Apollo.”

Suzanne Cluckey / Suzanne’s editorial career has spanned three decades and encompassed all B2B and B2C communications formats. Her award-winning work has appeared in trade and consumer media in the United States and internationally.
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