To be in tune with realities of the current digital payment system, Fintech experts in the country have challenged banks to upgrade their Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs). The upgrade, according to the experts, who spoke at the FINTECH1000+ special webinar, must include support for card-less transactions.
While noting that ATMs must evolve amid rapid changes in the economy and rise of digital payment alternatives to meet the evolving needs of current and future customers, they urged banks to add features such as Cash Deposit / Recyclers (for efficient cash management), Interactive / Video Teller Machines (capable of fully replacing a physical branch) as well as Biometric Scanners/AI enabled Cameras (or biometric identification of consumers to drive enhanced card-less usage. Speaking during the webi-nar, Group Head, Acceptance Business at First Bank, Mr. Bob Nwojo, said the upgrades would help the country achieve its financial inclusion target. “We need to re-invent the role of ATM in Nigeria.
There is the need for mobile integration through which people can use their phone to withdraw from ATM,” he said. Another speaker at the webinar, Executive Director, Infrastructure Business at Inlaks, Mr. Tope Dare, noted that the role of the ATM was evolving for financial institutions and cardholders, adding that new ATM technologies would make banking easier and more con-venient, which plays a critical role in keeping consumers connected to their banks in the new digital era. “ATM remains a critical kingpin for customer engagement as part of a broader omnichannel and retail banking strategy.
As long as cash is king. Cash is not going to be phased out any time soon, but cash is evolving to suit the customer’s anytime, anywhere needs,” he said. Other speakers at the virtual conference corroborated Dare, noting that cash remains crucial to the lives of consumers and as such the demand for ATMs as the most convenient and reliable channel to offer this essential service to consumers will continue to rise. In a communique issued after the webinar, the participants identified low deployment of ATM as a threat to the country’s financial inclusion target.
They, therefore, concluded that “the Central bank of Nigeria/ government and banks need to refocus/realign all policy action towards meeting the needs of the under-served low/ mid-income Nigerians who are being subjected to the most harrowing experience across the grossly inadequate ATM locations across the country “ATM will continue to play a complementary role in the banking and payments channel mix in Nigeria integrated to and supporting both the physical channels (merchant PoS, agency banking, and traditional bank branches) as well as the virtual channels (USSD, Internet and mobile banking apps). ATMs will remain relevant as the only channel offering essential cash services on a 24×7 basis and at the most affordable rate to the most vulnerable low/mid-income consumers across the nation,” the communique read. The fintech experts added that banks must rollout additional ATMs to meet the current shortfall and build capacity for the large unbanked population being onboarded via the numerous financial inclusions initiatives including the customers of the newly licensed payment service banks (PSB).
“Seen as the bank branch of the future, ATMs are expected to play a more critical role as part of branch transformation initiatives to serve customers affected by branch closures. There is a need for ATM deployment to more offsite locations that are proximal (closer) to the target users. Banks should improve the accuracy of selecting new ATM deployment locations by leveraging the latest affordable technologies for mapping consumer traffic,” they added.