ATM as general purpose disburser of financial services


Indian Banks are finally deploying ATM (Automated Teller Machines) in a big
way. ICICI was a pioneer in large-scale ATM deployment; it had managed to
shift banking transactions in branches from 97% in 1997 to 30% today. PSU
Banks are not far behind. State Bank and Bank of India are aggressively
deploying ATM machines. Today India is one of the fastest growing markets for
ATMs.

Independently, several agencies are deploying special purpose machines – BWSSB
in Bangalore for collection of Water Bills, KPTCL for Electricity Payments are
two such examples.

Also, many of the Banks in India operate their own ATM machines, leading to
inefficient capital utilization. Someone in Reserve Bank should quickly
mandate that ALL the Banks in India should let ALL users use ALL ATMs
.

In addition, ATMs today are very much software controlled. It is possible to
“configure” ATM machines, so that they not merely disburse cash, but offer a
whole range of services. Already, ICICI offers SIM card charging for cellular
phones. IIT Madras students have been paying fees using ATM machines. Most of
the Government-related functions (e-governance activities) can be “programmed”
for delivery using ATM machines. With shared usage across the Banks, sharing
across Government departments and thereby increasing utilization of capital
equipment, we can focus on multi-lingual interfaces, speech-based
interfaces, finger-print-based authentication, solar-powered ATM’s etc., which
genuinely address the needs of the Indian consumers, particularly in the rural
regions.

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