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What might 2018 bring for the ATM channel?

The future role of the ATM as a self-service channel is continually debated, with many experts questioning it's value in an ever-changing digital world.  Smartphones, cashless, e-Payments and card are often seen as more important.  In 2017 however, the ATM witnessed many changes, innovations and product launches that highlights it is still very important area of financial technology.

Perhaps most significantly, the ATM channel does continue to play a vital role in the retail banking industry as part of wider digital transformation initiatives. The ongoing development of new technologies and experiences shows how important the ATM can continue to be for banks and their customers.

As we begin 2018, how can we expect the channel to perform and to continue evolving during the next 12 months?

Ongoing modernization
2017 was the 50th year of the very first ATM and there were some exciting innovation and modernization initiatives in the ATM channel, with highlights including the growth of contactless accessibility and mobile pre-staging to maximize convenience for users. The ability of the ATM to offer "branch in a box" functionality and deliver more than 90% of branch based technology through an automated channel is also gaining further momentum.

For financial institutions and ATM deployers, embracing modernization could prove more important than ever in 2018. The financial services industry is moving forward at a quicker pace than ever before, and consumers will expect the evolution of the ATM channel to match trends seen in other industries such as travel, retail or hospitality.

Continuing to support payments choice
Despite talk of the possibility of a cashless society, the focus for financial institutions should be on enabling maximum payments choice for their customers.  Financial inclusion to all remains important and it is worthwhile remembering that the equivilent of over $400,000 USD cash withdrawals are made every second at the world's 3.2million ATMs each year.

Various studies and reports have shown that cash remains extremely popular among consumers and has a key role to play in the global financial ecosystem. Banks should prioritize optimum performance and availability in the ATM channel to ensure that those people who still rely on physical currency are able to access it whenever and wherever they choose.

Utilizing data and analytics to deliver insights
Given how frequently these machines are used - and for how many tasks and transactions - the ATM can be an extremely valuable source of customer data.

In 2018, we can expect to see an increase in financial institutions deploying analytics tools and technologies to collect and process this information. Banks that get it right will derive insights that could prove particularly useful for targeted marketing.

Growth in deposit and recycling
The RBR Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2022 report showed that an increasing number of FIs across the globe are giving their customers the opportunity to make automated deposits at ATMs. Cash recycling is also on the rise, opening up the dual benefits of maximum availability for consumers and reduced cash management costs for banks.

Given the clear and tangible advantages to be gained from combined deposit and recycling machines, the industry can expect to see further growth in their use throughout the coming year.

Entirely new experiences
Is it possible that we could see ATMs breaking entirely new ground in 2018. We have seen the Internet of Things and wearable technology begin to play a more prominent role in payments, so could ongoing expansion in these fields bring them into contact with the ATM channel?

We have also seen the recent arrival of Bitcoin-enabled ATMs in markets such as the UAE. It will be interesting to see how this particular market performs in 2018.

Regardless of what the most influential and noteworthy sub-trends turn out to be, it's beyond any doubt that the ATM will maintain its place at the heart of the retail banking industry over the coming year. 


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