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By Bradley Cooper

The pandemic has changed every industry from top to bottom, and the ATM industry is no exception. Even as we begin transitioning into the post-pandemic environment, many of these trends such as increased health standards and more contactless options will still remain.

To get a handle on how the ATM industry has adjusted to COVID-19, ATM Marketplace spoke with Brendan Watkins, VP of ATM product management at Fiserv and Kurtis Johnson, director of product management at Fiserv.

Q. How have companies had to pivot because of COVID? Cleaning/disinfecting?

Watkins: In the ATM space the biggest question was how to support clients in making customers feel safe. It started with offering education on how to properly clean ATMs. After knowing more about how COVID-19 spread, we shifted to more consulting role to where they’re looking to us as self-service experts to walk them through this. Even with COVID-19, 71% of customers still want to have face-to-face interaction or some sort of mixed interaction

Q. Was there anything that surprised you? Anything you hadn’t thought of or new possibilities?

Watkins: One of the things we started to push for clients is the “riding the COVID wave” concept.

When branches began to shut down, we encouraged clients to introduce ATMs and capitalize on digital channels. For example, IBK offers a solution that allows customers to interact locally with a person but have a presence with a virtual teller. Video tellers and IBKs provided a sense of security.

Q. In terms of software, what types are people turning toward?

Watkins: They are looking for solutions that are simple to use and flexible from a management perspective, such as video ATMs. Fiserv in particular works with strategic partners such as NCR, which took the leap into providing contactless solution at ATMs prior to COVID. In fact, due to COVID-19, 6-7% of transactions at those NCR terminals were contactless.

Johnson: Customers are turning to a more omnichannel experiences. A consumer might start transaction at home and finish it on their phones, or at an ATM or at a teller.

Q. On branch transformation – is that the way that it’s going? Or will we go back to standing in line for a teller?

Johnson: I think a lot of FIs will continue offering self-service solutions. I also think for institutions, there will be a tug of war, between the availability of devices when customer wants them and maintaining a balance with touchpoints. Self-service can ride both sides of fence and make the relationship stronger.

Q. Any challenges you came up against? Things you had to re-think?

Johnson: I think the biggest was in the cash space, such as customer fears over “dirty money,” but cash still leads small ticket transactions under $25. It was getting over misconceptions. Consumers are no longer spending cash because there’s nowhere to go between store closures and fear of leaving one’s house. However, the upside is as we emerge from lockdown, the economic recovery will drive more cash use.

Q. What do you plan to do post-pandemic?

Watkins: We will offer more services to customers such as more consultative cash management. We will also power branch transformation. We want to both be a strategic arm and a sounding board for customers as they go through on that journey.

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