It works but we will still redesign

It's time to rethink several of our day-to-day experiences, and ATM is one of them.

Many of the technologies we use today were invented tens or hundreds of years ago and few people remember to question them. Comments like, “It’s always been done this way and it works” and “almost everything has been invented”, are normal. However, as I once heard in an MBA class “We are so smart that we didn’t remember to put wheels on suitcases until the seventies”. Another example is the toilet, present in most bathrooms, but which nevertheless represents a great inefficiency in places where there is no water, a fact that led Bill Gates, with his foundation, to offer several million dollars to whoever reinvents it.

The ATM machine is one of these cases, because from the sixties until today there have been few changes. The ATM is probably the largest form of electronic commerce in the world, and in most countries, it is the main form of contact with the bank. However, the experience is still conditioned more by the programmer’s perspective than by the end-user’s experience.

However, I am far from saying that ATMs in Portugal are bad. On the contrary, the ATM is a great case of innovation in which our country is a world leader. More than 40% of the payments in many e-commerce stores are made through this means and the functionalities present are comparable to few other countries: payment by bank reference, buying movie and train tickets, and charging your cell phone, among others. One such example is MBnet, an excellent solution for many customers who avoid making purchases over the internet for fear of putting their credit card data online.

It’s time to bring the ATM to the current moment. New technologies and features already in the mainstream can be used (the touch screen for example), which, combined with the amount of information banks have about customers, can make the experience better for customers and more profitable for banks. Of course, changing all the machines represents a high cost but one that justifies being thought of now to be done progressively. At the same time some of these changes are just a matter of graphic redesign.

Let’s look at some examples: An ATM can be completely personalized for the customer. The bank can learn from the user’s behavior and create different shortcuts according to each user’s profile. For a user over seventy, why not create larger icons or even simpler menus. New services or even advertising – if the person charges his cell phone every week at the ATM, why not, before returning the card, put advertising from the operator asking if he wants to charge his phone, or even, if he wants an automatic charge of that account every month. Technology also allows you to interact with the location where the device is. Why not use the cameras to identify if there is an ATM queue? If there is, the experience can be faster with fewer menus, if there is no queue more options of other services from the bank or its partners can be shown (cross selling). All these points have to be subjected to usability tests in the different markets and target customers, but they can create a new generation of ATMs.

Several banks are trying to redesign this experience and we expect to see SIBS again leading the way in this new phase. Instead of the usual “If it’s not broke don’t fix it” we will apply “It’s not broken but let’s improve it“.

David Bernardo
David Bernardo
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