ING Belgium SA's deployment of NCR Corp.'s cash-recycling ATMs in the bank's new-style branches has freed bank employees from handling time-consuming cash transactions. Instead, employees can focus on selling customers higher-ticket bank products, says a bank spokesperson.

Brussels-based ING Belgium is using cash-recycling ATMs as a core part of its plan to reconfigure most of its branches to a new design called Proxi, which is oriented around self-service for routine cash transactions.

Proxi, short for proximity, and helps to promote the fact that reinforced bulletproof glass walls that separated bank employees from customers no longer exist, Ilse De Muyer, a spokesperson for ING, tells ATM&Debit News.

Employees in the reconfigured branches no longer dispense cash to customers or accept cash deposits from them, De Muyer says.

Instead, employees refer customers to NCR SelfServ 34 model ATMs, deployed in branch lobbies,  for cash withdrawals and cash deposits.

"Proxi branches are cashless branches because employees do not handle cash," De Muyer says.  So far, ING has converted 220 of a planned 500 locations into Proxi branches.

"The ATMs free employees to sell more-expensive insurance policies and other bank products to customers, which has resulted in higher sales of those products because  employees are not distracted by other duties,' says De Muyer, decling to provide specific information about product sales.

Each Proxi branch has at least two SelfServ 34 ATMs, which are equipped with cash-dispensing and cash-recycling modules, Paul De Grove, NCRsales and account manager, tells ATM&Debit News.

When a customer deposits bank notes into the ATM, the machine's cash-recycling module counts the funds and stores the banknotes inside its safe.

When funds have been depleted, the cash-recycling module continues to dispense bank notes, De Grove says. The ATMs hold 16,000 to 17,000 20-euro (US$29.89) and 50-euro (US$74.72) banknotes, he says.

The recycling module also reduces the bank's need to hire armored car companies to deposit cash into the machines each week. The bank will need such services every three weeks instead of every week, but De Grove says the frequency  will depend on the effectiveness of the branch's cash-management system.

The SelfServ 34 also enables Proxi branches to remain open from 5:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., but employees are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., De Muyer says.

ING Belgium announced Monday that it purchased at least 1,200 cash-recycling ATMs from Duluth, Ga.-based NCR for an undisclosed price. ING Belgium, however, could order additional machines, bringing the total order to as many as 1,600. The bank plans to  complete its Belgian branch conversion by the end of 2011, De Muyer says. ING Belgium operates 840 branches in Belgium, a country with a population of 10 million. The bank plans to maintain 340 locations as full-service, or classic branches, with tellers who accept cash deposits and dispense cash and offer other services, such as private banking, De Muyer says.

Proxi Branches generally are located in suburban and rural areas, and classic branches are located in Brussels and other large cities, De Muyer says. ING Belgium is a subsidiary of ING Group, which is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ATM

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