Absa ATMs to be smarter as nationwide refresh gets underway

To improve ATM functionality, Absa, one of South Africa’s big four banks, is undertaking an overhaul of its entire ATM network across the country over a period of three years.

March 14, 2012

To improve ATM functionality, Absa, one of South Africa’s big four banks, is undertaking an overhaul of its entire ATM network across the country over a period of three years. The development will result in a highly scalable platform that will enable the bank to radically enhance the scope of self-service features available at ATMs in the future.

“Our customers can look forward to enhanced functionality, as well as several other benefits resulting from the refresh,” says Christo Vrey, head of Absa’s Digital Banking Services. “The new ATM interfaces we are providing are more intuitive. The design is clean, and helpful animations assist customers with their transactions. Transactions are faster. Security is enhanced, particularly when it comes to card skimming. The innovations we are introducing aim to reduce the length of queues in bank branches and make banking more convenient and user-friendly for Absa’s customers.”

The ATM refresh will result in a more intuitive navigational experience for customers, as well as an improved look-and-feel, making the machines easier to use. In addition to providing customers with faster transactions, and enhanced security, the revamped ATMs will also be more energy efficient, a key environmental concern for Absa.

Vrey says the refurbishment will also create the foundation for Absa ATMs to offer an entirely new level of functionality for customers. “Our ATMs will no longer be simply for drawing cash, but will also become self-service tools that give Absa customers the ability to pay bills and request documents they would normally only be able to access in a branch.”

Among the new features that both Absa and non-Absa customers can look forward to is “Scan ‘n Pay”, which will become available on cash accepting ATM machines. This functionality will allow customers to scan bar-coded invoices from certain pre-registered companies at the ATM. Customers who make payments to institutions with no bar-coded invoices have the option of keying their reference or account number and instantly paying directly from their accounts or by depositing cash into the machine through the card-less function.

“Both Absa customers and customers of other banks will be able to take advantage of the Scan ‘n Pay functionality to conveniently pay regular accounts,” says Vrey. “This service supports the bank’s drive to migrate simple and high-volume transactions from the branch teller to electronic self-service devices.”

Another service which will be introduced on the newly developed platform is eStamp, which allows customers to receive bank statements with a bank electronic stamp included on the printout, at any Absa Self-service Kiosk.

This means that customers can not only get 24/7 access to stamped bank statements, but they do not have to queue in a branch to receive stamped statements from a consultant, reducing unnecessary foot traffic and supporting Absa’s drive to focus on quality customer service.

Absa contracted Bytes Managed Solutions, which exclusively distributes and supports NCR ATM machines in South Africa, to roll out the refresh. Bytes Managed Solutions’ relationship with Absa is longstanding, with the organisation having supplied ATMs for the bank, as well as the hardware and support services, since 1988. Absa’s request for proposals went out to all the major ATM solution providers in the country and was awarded to Bytes Manages Solutions as a result of several differentiators, including people, processes and technology.

“Because Bytes Managed Solutions is part of the Altron group and has a partnership with NCR, we were able to demonstrate to Absa that we could provide the lowest-risk solution,” says Alan Anderson, business development director, Bytes Managed Solutions. “When a large financial services organisation undertakes this level of technology refresh, a well known service provider with a long track record and expertise is a critical requirement. Our understanding of what it really takes to service the business sealed the deal. Our competition had neither the depth nor the breadth to match.”

In addition, Bytes was able to meet the specific requirements for support. “Our single most important differentiator is the level of services and support we are able to provide,” adds Anderson. “We have the biggest capability in the country and a national footprint. We also proved that our people know how to repair ATMs. This is important, because these devices are mechanical. They differ from laptops and require specific competencies. Another key factor is the technology underpinning the programme. Access to the network anytime, anywhere is non-negotiable. When an ATM machine is down, revenue is lost.