The high cost and reduced traffic of branches as well as the ever-increasing level of consumer comfort with automated service has many people reconsidering the humble ATM, in some cases turning it into a portal to remote branch staff.

In an attempt to reach credit unions looking to automate and manage large fleets of shared ATMs while avoiding the substantial cost of fleet replacement, Co-op Financial Services has teamed with Diebold to offer a range of externally managed and delivered ATM services, including security, maintenance and deployment of new self-service tools (see story).

One of the immediate goals is to improve vendor management.

“Before this partnership, we didn’t have a managed service program,” says Eric Porter, Co-op executive vice president of business development. “Our credit unions would manage their own fleet of ATMs and call multiple vendors, multiple cash-replenishers and multiple maintenance firms.”

Co-op offers credit unions shared services such as shared branching, payments processing and mobile banking.

Under the deal, Diebold will market and sell Co-op ATM Managed Services and will offer its Diebold Integrated Services as part of the product suite, including antiskimming, currency management, enterprise security and software deployment. Diebold also will offer Co-op payment processing services for signature- and PIN-debit and ATM transactions.

ATM Managed Services will be vendor-neutral. Porter says Diebold and Co-op’s integrated hub can process messaging from different devices, allowing non-Diebold ATMs to be maintained remotely.

Other services include tech recommendations and ATM financing/leasing analysis and options; fleet maximization and tech upgrades, including deployment and implementation of new or upgraded devices; compliance updates; fleet coordination, including device support, management of vendor services and a single source for support and billing; and ATM processing, including terminal driving, reporting, fraud detection and prevention, and adjustment processing.

By using the existing telecom links between the ATMs and the credit unions, the partnership with Diebold will allow new ATM functions such as mobile banking onboarding, automated self-service and automated teller services to be delivered remotely, Porter says.

“The branches can offload typical teller transactions to their ATMs, and don’t have to buy a new ATM to do so,” he says.

The Co-op NextGen ATM allows 24/7 self service via a software download, in effect an expansion of Co-op’s earlier Co-op Fast Branch.

Expected to be available in the second quarter, the NextGen services will integrate with mainline ATMs. Features will include account access, teller transactions and access to Co-op’s shared branching network via ATMs.

Credit unions will also be able to provide self-service shared branch transactions for individual credit-union customers at ATMs via a swipe of a magnetic stripe credit union card to commence an initial registration process.

The ability to upgrade ATMs quickly can drive a larger re-imagining of branches as the role of an institution’s physical footprint changes.

In an interview for an upcoming report on branches and ATMs, Marc DeCastro, a research director for IDC Financial Insights, said the drive to reduce costs and manage declining foot traffic at branches will spark a broad change in how expanded automated self-service capabilities can be used to optimize branches as a financial services venue.

“How the branch is perceived and how it will be built out in the future is changing. There is a movement to go with much smaller branches,” he says.

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