Companies are finding out that eco-friendly practices aren't just good for the brand image, they're also good for the bottom line; 37 percent of organizations reported a profit from their sustainability efforts last year, according to a survey by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group.
The same study, which included 2,600 executives and managers from companies worldwide, found that half of the respondents changed their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities.
In the same way, the ATM industry is discovering new ways of doing business that benefit the environment — and increase profitability, efficiency, customer loyalty and market reach. Following is an Earth Week overview of seven green innovations in the ATM industry:
1. Deposit automation
Check 21 and major advances in check imaging and verification technologies have put deposit envelopes on the endangered list. Every major ATM manufacturer now offers models without the once-de rigeuer envelope dispenser.
For drive-through ATM users, it's good riddance. With every auto-deposit ATM installation, fewer bank customers have to worry about keeping an extra envelope in the glove box in case some hooligan made off with the entire stock at the ATM.
Nordstrom, Whole Foods and Banana Republic got the ball rolling on the retail side, while Wells Fargo got the program going on the financial services side. In 2010 pilot, the FI piloted the first e-receipts, and last summer Wells became the first U.S. financial institution to offer the option nationwide.
Now other big banks are following suit. And this year at ATMIA, Triton unveiled the industry's first printer-less ATM in anticipation of a day when electronic receipts rule. In the U.S. alone, this could mean the elimination of 640,000 tons of receipt paper per year.
3. Machine refurb
During the (very expensive) rush to ADA compliance, ATM deployers found a lot to like in refurbished ATMs. The same could prove true as the industry deals with EMV, PCI and Windows 7.
Refurbished machines might also prove important in developing markets where the focus is perhaps not so much on newfangled capabilities as it is on access to affordable hardware that can enable faster, broader expansion.
4. Parts recycling
They're almost always less expensive, guaranteed, and just as reliable as newly manufactured parts. There are a couple of different options for parts repair; each can greatly reduce the number of discarded components that go into the landfill:
- depot repair — send a defective part to a repair service, they'll fix it if possible and ship it back to you.
- advance exchange — get a repaired part shipped immediately to avoid holding up a repair. Send back the replaced part for assessment and credit.
5. Smaller branch footprint
Not only are ATMs becoming more streamlined, but they're also helping other segments of the financial services industry to slim down, as well.
Advanced self-service and teller assist ATMs can perform nearly all the transactions that once required teller windows and the considerable real estate they required for customer-facing and back-office functions.
Condensing these functions into an ATM has allowed banks to rethink their entire branch concept. More and more of them are daring to ditch the teller line and downsize the store, moving their service teams into the front lobby where they can perform more valuable customer service and sales.
6. Smartphone access
A growing number of manufacturers are offering some type of mobile cash withdrawal. There are multiple variations on the concept, but they all come down to software that lets bank customers set up a cash withdrawal using their mobile device — then complete the transaction at the ATM by scanning a code or entering a one-time code.
As ATMs move forward into a smartphone world along with the rest of the financial services industry, they become part of a drive toward a mobile wallet culture and the extinction of the plastic card.
The concept has been around for years, but advances that have reduced the cost of solar panels and increased the storage capacity of batteries have made solar-powered ATMs a very doable proposition.
These ATMs have enabled many banks to go off the grid and into remote population centers, around the world. They're even popping up in urban areas where access to electricity is not an issue, due to their ability to reduce AC/DC power use by up to 90 percent.
Wait. there's one more.
Cash. It's the ultimate "green," and that's not just ink color. Paper money in the U.S. is as earth-friendly as it gets, made from 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen fibers.
Read more about trends and statistics.
photo: Theodore Scott
/ 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.