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Charitable donations at ATMs - it's a nice idea in theory

I’m all for making it easier for people to do their bit for charity, so in theory the government’s idea of enabling charitable donations to be made when withdrawing cash at an ATM is a good one. The idea comes as part of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ initiative and follows the lead of Colombia, which has a system of ATM giving that allows customers to make a donation every time they withdraw money.

As well as having obvious benefits in a bid to promote a ‘culture of generosity’ this initiative puts the message across to customers using their most accessed touchpoint to the bank. However, in the government’s ‘giving’ green paper in which this concept was announced, it was clear that the idea is still in the early stages: ‘We want banks and ATM providers to let us know how we might make this happen in the UK and whether there are ways we can facilitate this.’ And quite right too, as while this is indeed a nice idea and seems simple on paper, it could be a bit of a functionality headache unless banks have the right technical architecture and development and testing structure in place.

Put simply, increasing functionality at an ATM means making additions to the transaction set and customer screenflows and these additions can be onerous to test alongside the ‘business as usual’ processes.

With one manual test taking anywhere from five minutes to an hour to perform, for those looking to maximise the potential of the channel by pursuing ideas such as this, it quickly becomes apparent why automated rather than manual testing is a must have for today’s banks and ATM deployers.

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Comments: (1)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon 12 January, 2011, 11:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Well, I like the eBay type approach where a charitable donation is requested at checkout.  I can choose, without pressure, if I want to support that charity and how much for.  I 'trust' that eBay is actually passing that money on.  When 'buying' something, its easy to add a small charge ontop for charity, and it even appears separately on my bank account so that the charity get the tax benefit too.

I'd much rather the Banks focused on the 'charity begins at home' message and figure a way to give a very small part of their dealings to charity themselves.  I think the Robin Hood tax is promoting just that.

In fact I think that topic deserves a Finextra blog all on its own, from anyone that knows more about it than I.

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