Diversify ... how and why

| by Mark Smith
Diversify ... how and why

"We are working twice as hard and making half as much," was the most common statement at the recent ATMIA Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. This echoed across the entire spectrum of ATM distributors, vendors and service providers.

Rightly so. The past few years have been difficult to say the least. They've also proven expensive as we continue to fight Congress and the major card brands to keep our revenues secure.

Fortunately, we're not a divided industry. We may be competitive with each other, but we're not at odds when it comes to the health of our industry as a whole. None of us wants it to dry up or stagnate.

That's why the ATMIA conference focused not only on the difficulties facing the industry but also on the latest innovations, looking for new revenue streams and more efficient ways to manage ATM programs.

We have long survived on surcharge and interchange, but continued survival will depend on how well we adjust and diversify. As with technology, our business models must also quickly adapt to changes in our society and economy. What may have worked yesterday may need to be refreshed or abandoned all together today.

Continuing to provide unprecedented customer service is essential but we should also use our resources to innovate and help build our industry. Think broadly and watch the trends in your areas of business. Diversity is the key to survival for most of us.

You may wish to consider vertical markets and some of the products that are emerging:

Dynamic currency conversion

This option is perfect for regions frequented by international travelers. It allows the ATM user to select the currency exchange rate applied when they withdraw cash. If they have a choice, they'll seek out these terminals, which minimize their costs for funds. DCC has proven successful in several countries and it will drive business to ATM terminals supporting this application.

Lottery tickets at the ATM

Introduced several years ago at an ATMIA conference, this idea is finally gaining market traction and acceptance by state gaming authorities. It's ideal for ATMs in locations where lottery tickets aren't currently sold, but that have ample foot traffic to justify an ATM that offers this service.

'Green' ATMs

You might have noticed the new Triton ARGO ATM that was just released for distribution. It provides a "printer-less" option in which receipts are sent to the customer via text or email. You can still elect to have a printer with this ATM, but lately ATM users are opting less for receipts from transaction devices.

An ATM without a printer offers a lower-priced option that is ideal for locations with less than optimal foot traffic. It's a clever idea and I suspect it will start a trend with other manufacturers.

Branding programs

The latest in ATM wraps feature exquisite and very high quality graphics. ATM screen development is now being provided as a premium service.

Having a retail chain or financial institution co-brand an ATM has proven transaction uplift benefits. Couponing and topper advertising also can be tied in with branding programs. You may have valuable real estate that appeals to an advertiser. Consider offering these services at a monthly fee that supports your marketing efforts.

Prepaid products

Gift cards, prepaid debit cards and loyalty cards are popular in retail locations and are now being issued by financial institutions reaching out to the underbanked market. These programs lend themselves to unique marketing opportunities that you can offer to prospects. Automating access to these products will offer additional revenue for the ATM operator.

Payment kiosks

We've long been expecting payment and financial kiosks to emerge in our markets. Today, we can thank airports and airlines for demonstrating the benefits automated kiosks and for teaching consumers how to use them.

 Up until now, these machines have been too expensive to deploy and too costly to operate. But the newest generation of payment kiosks is less expensive and offers more streamlined services.

Bill payment remains an attractive program; add this to check cashing and a few other financial services and you will see an uplift in transactions as customers return to a specific location to conduct on-going financial services. For banks, automation of these services is a considerable time-saver and frees personnel to work solely with customers.

Mobile applications

ATM locators are used extensively today. This is a proven method to drive traffic to ATM locations and is a highly sought-after service for financial institutions. Make sure your fleet is represented and given access. 

Check imaging via smartphone is the latest application financial institutions are adding for their accountholders. It aligns with their strategy to offer extensive online services and minimize the need to build service branches. The more they automate, the more they can save in labor and real estate costs. Look for full-function ATMs to replace bank branches in the near future.

Do your research, talk to the experts, survey your customers and consider diversifying your product offerings. Within our industry, we have plenty of options to consider that can promote growth of services and revenue.

We can partner or white label with the majority of manufacturers, which allows for market differentiation and unique, niche-driven services. It can set your company apart from the many others challenging you for the business. Not just in 2013, but for many years to come. 

Topics: ATM Innovation, ATM & Mobile Banking, Bill Payment Kiosks, Branding, Deposits / Check 21

Companies: Kahuna Business Group

Mark Smith
As VP of the Kahuna Financial Solutions division of Kahuna ATM Solutions, Mark is responsible for development of the division's product and services lineup. He manages the Kahuna VAR channel and provides direct sales support to financial institutions. wwwView Mark Smith's profile on LinkedIn

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