2021. What an interesting year. With the world turned upside down by a pandemic that seemingly had its sights set on...
OmniPayments imagines what could the ATM become some day!
Imagine an ATM that as big as a branch office is today – not in terms of being able to walk inside the ATM itself, but rather, spanning the length of a branch office wall. Imagine too that it knew who you were the moment you stepped through the door. Ever since bankers first began talking about AI and yes, became aware that there were some aspects of AI likely to be more pertinent to banking – customer interactions driven by analytics and yes, machine learning – the options only grew wider and in some ways wilder! Wow, robots to greet you and crack jokes and yes, what may simply be a holodeck complete with 3D holograms, enticing you to take the money and buy! Now!
Imagine for a moment, too, an ATM that is the teller. Not a joke-telling robot, but rather, a sensory immersion that no matter where you turn, you don’t lose eye contact with a banker completely absorbed in helping you navigate 21st century banking. Perhaps if we imagine hard enough we can see a mix of Ex Machina and TRON – a Touring Test that is passed by systems exhibiting “intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.” While we can read about how the bank branch of the future will be smart, perhaps we aren’t thinking big enough at a time when development to roll-out new software has shrunk to a matter of months. As they say, banks do need to think big or go home! Reason? There are competitors out there already going well beyond simply the planning phase.
The article in the July 24, 2018, issue of USA Today “Bank branch of the future will have a ‘smart’ feel” is worth reading, and while some of the content is accurate, it still doesn’t go far enough to really qualify as a blueprint of the future, given that some of what is referenced already exists. This is not a time to be timid, mind you, but as this article notes, “the digital bank will be 24 / 7, no different than an ATM on Main Street in your hometown. The difference is the branch will offer a full menu of banking options no different than going to a diner and ordering a full meal in the wee hours.” Yes, a couple of years ago, Margo and I had arrived in Paris after midnight and had no problems enjoying a fine dining experience in the wee hours so that base is already being covered in some geographies. But the article holds its punches in other respects – the digital bank will be no different than an ATM because it will be an ATM!
Down through the years, OmniPayments has embraced new channels as they have appeared. The architecture of the OmniPayments solution is one that is flexible enough to add new channels as needed. Even so, should ATMs evolve in this manner, it wouldn’t be a difficult proposition for OmniPayments to support as all of the elements required to support such an evolution of the ATM already exist. And of course, OmniPayments has a solid track record of being successful whenever something new is introduced into the world of payments – think of biometric support that was successfully introduced in South America and think too about the ongoing success now being enjoyed by OmniPayments following introduction of OmniCloudX. As OmniPayments, LLC CEO, Yash Kapadia, often states, “We have seen a lot of changes in the payments industry and expect to see even more in the future but the inherent architecture of OmniPayments makes it relatively easy for us to accommodate additional channels as and when they prove popular.”
“To me it takes a completely different mindset to stay successful as opposed to what you have to do to build something to be successful,” said Alabama football coach, Nick Saban, in a May 1, 2018, interview with Fortune magazine. “It’s special for somebody to make an A on a test and say, ‘I’m going to try to make the highest grade ever in the class.’ That’s not normal. But yet, that’s what you have to try to promote from a mindset standpoint to the people in your organization.” I don’t have any problem with these statements when they’re applied to banking, to branch banking today and yes, to where ATMs are headed. While we may have succeeded in retaining our customers, what we have in place doesn’t really amount to much. What comes next is what we should be focused on.
It was Frank Sinatra who once said, “You buy a Ferrari when you want to be somebody. You buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody.” This quote has always reminded me of just how important it is to project success and in the past, it was banks that dominated the skyline with ever higher skyscrapers. And yet, today, being a good banker has implications far wider reaching that simply having a good car. Remember too that when Sinatra made this observation, Ferrari was established and Lamborghini was struggling to get off the ground. Makes you wonder what he imagined for the future of exotic cars! On the other hand, when it comes to ATMs, even with all the bells and whistles they possess today, it’s not over and it may very well be an up-and-coming vendor that truly does deliver on our expectations for the 21st century.
MacDonald’s is testing self-service order kiosks and encouraging everyone to use them to order their hamburgers. MacDonald’s just happens to be also testing automated hamburger making machines – taking a job flipping hamburgers may not be an option for out-of-work IT engineers in the future. Out on Americas highways, there are now many more MacDonald’s serving expresso than there are Starbucks (and the lattes are pretty good) and yes, it’s all executed for you with the push of a button. Shortly, entering MacDonald’s will not be any different from entering a bank’s branch office – just the aroma inside the bank branch may be less than enticing. I have written about this before but it’s worth restating – ATMs, Kiosks and every imaginable self-service device are about to intersect and any intelligent device will be able to support the needs of any establishment’s customer. The market we consequently serve is only limited by our imagination. Or lack thereof!
An ATM may never be as big as a branch office nor might it ever be as comprehensive in the services it provides as a well-informed banker. However, it’s not a wise move to limit your expectations of what an ATM could do to support your future pursuits or to fence it in and effectively limit what role it might play. Even in purely cashless societies, there will be a need for engaging with bankers – our money is too important to be left solely to joke-cracking robots, as HBSC’s Pepper is doing right now for banking customers at its New York flagship store. And here’s the thing. When it comes to the payments solution software in place today, no matter how creative our imagination becomes, changes to the front end and to the user interfaces aren’t all that hard to do – we have the business logic in place for much of what is covered here.
“Modern payments solutions like OmniPaymnets, for instance, would have little to do when it comes to interacting with ATMs the size of a wall – it’s still all about what services the bank plans on supporting,” said Yash. “Just as we are now leveraging the cloud for our processing having rolled out OmniCloudX, what you are describing here could be viewed as part and parcel of what we envision happening at the edge. And isn’t everyone talking about the Edge these days and about IoT and about sensors and robots so embellishing payments solutions that support whatever ATMs become will be easily accommodated – just let us know how imaginative you want to be! Maybe you will see that we have OmniEdgeX in the works!”
Yash drives neither a Ferrari nor a Lamborghini, but shares a passion for high-performance hybrid cars. Sinatra didn’t see that coming all those years ago and yet, it’s kind of funny really, given how our expectations sometimes drift into the realm of fantasy. However, when it comes to the future of ATMs then perhaps it is time to step away from the centuries of tradition and pursue something foolish – even as we listen to Peppers cracking jokes. After all, wasn’t it Sinatra who said, “Dare to wear the foolish clown face!”