A NEW BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY MODEL IS REQUIRED FOR THE ATM CHANNEL, SAYS LEVEL FOUR

-Level Four white paper highlights new era of fundamental change for ATMs-

London, 29 November 2005 – A distributed ATM software architecture can help banks roll out new ATM services easily and inexpensively and exploit untapped marketing opportunities, according to a new white paper published today by Level Four, the leading global provider of open-standards based ATM testing and development software.

The business and technology model behind the ATM network has remained virtually unchanged for the last 25 years, explaining the lack of functionality that is available in today’s ATM networks. Today’s ATM systems are universally architected using a simplistic ‘two box’ model in which the ATM operates either as a dumb terminal connected to an intelligent host banking application, or as an intelligent client machine connected to a slave host server. Either way, inherent design inflexibilities in the implementation of these ‘two box’ architectural approaches have come to define the manner in which the ATM and bank communicate.

Nigel Walsh, executive chairman at Level Four, said: "The current two box architectures mean that each unit has to be updated individually and in synchronization to change the service. This makes any customisation of the ATM, be it aesthetically as regards the display, or more fundamentally the services it provides, an extremely complex, time consuming and expensive proposition. But as banks focus on extracting revenue from untapped resources, the humble ATM is about to enter a new era of fundamental change."

Level Four’s white paper looks at how recently introduced open standards are encouraging increased competitiveness in the ATM marketplace as banks seek alternative suppliers for their ATM software. New applications are becoming available at the same time as new distributed processing architectures are unlocking the potential of the networks and increasing the opportunity to interact with other bank systems and third parties.

"In this exciting new environment, customers can anticipate a wave of new opportunities when they insert their card into the ‘hole in the wall’", added Walsh. "Because applications can be created and controlled in network servers rather than individual ATMs, new content can be integrated into the network quickly and inexpensively. New services can be developed and deployed without the need for specialist staff and, because each machine can be configured dynamically, third party processing networks can present different screens and functions to the customer depending on which bank issued their card."

"For banks and third party vendors alike, this equates to a huge chunk of as yet untapped marketing opportunity, while for the customer, everything from car hire to last minute travel insurance could be arranged via an ATM."

The white paper argues that the benefits of this new approach can range from a simple personalised greeting to instantaneous service downloads and online deployment of applications. Coupled with the recent technology advances made in the payment card industry, a network of dynamically configured ATMs will allow both banks and their customers to enjoy an unprecedented array of new ATM services.

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