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The Forgotten Channel

Here’s a fun trivia question for all you digital folks:

What digital channel gathers

25,000,000 transactions each month,

but doesn’t fit in your pocket?

Drumroll… the beloved Automated Teller Machine! By the way, that number is just for DBS in Singapore, who operate the world’s most active ATM network.

We recently nabbed a little trophy with DBS, for our work on their upgraded ATM User Experience. While most ATM’s you’ll see across Asia come with a retro two-color text-only experience, we wanted to get as close as possible to the mystical “omnichannel” experience. That means the ATM UI should look more like your website and apps, less like your pocket calculator from high-school.

If you think about it, as long as we need cash, which could be another 10 or 20 years by some estimates, why would you ignore the experience of getting cash? Cash is king, particularly in Asia. While some ATM’s can support up to 50 types of transactions, from credit card applications to buying government bonds, the core transaction is still cash.

By running the numbers on typical cash withdrawal amounts, we were able to provide intelligent and personalized Fast Cash options right on the home screen for a one-click transaction. The outcome is shorter cycle times and ultimately shorter queues, which is what you want to see. With bank branches on the decline globally, ATM’s will not disappear, but will actually see increased usage.

As Über and Amazon do with payments, the best experience is no experience at all

You can also personalize the experience like you might do on a real website, by changing the font size and language from a contextual menu. The first time you try it it’s almost tempting to play around with it, because it feels novel in such an old school context.

Something that really struck me was a senior banking executive telling me the story of how his elderly father never trusted the ATM’s when they came out in the 1960’s. He wanted a human to count his money, surely the machine would get it wrong at some point! You can only trust your money in human hands! In a lot of ways that’s what we’re seeing today with the onset of digital banking, with more and more transactions moving onto mobile devices. Older generations will always prefer the security and comfort of whatever channel they’re used to, be it physical or digital.

Whether it will keep rolling out cash, or serve other purposes like video chat or card issuance in the future, we should not forget this channel. Long live the ATM!

Thanks Alok, Rob & team, that was a fun journey!










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