Alicia Moore, head of ATM banking at Wells Fargo & Co., recently spoke with PaymentsSource about the new credit card management and payment features that are part of the company's larger ATM fleet overhaul.

The new features have major ramifications for how consumers use the machines to manage their credit card, as well as make payments. The bank developed the ATM upgrades over the course of the past two years, and is currently testing the new design at about 500 of its approximately 12,000 machines, with a wider rollout planned for May. Wells Fargo creates its own software to drive the ATMs, which are built by NCR, Diebold and Wincor Nixdorf.

PaymentsSource: How can users manage their payment cards at the ATM? And how is that changing?
Moore: We have had payments functions available for a while. For a Wells Fargo cardholder that had a credit card account linked to debit card access to the ATM, we allowed them to transfer money from the checking account to the credit card at the ATM to make a payment. What we’ve done recently is sort of unhook the credit card number or account from the [debit card used to access the ATM]. So if a customer has a debit card that accesses an account, we are able to pull credit card information that may not be linked to that debit card, and we can process the payment that way.

PaymentsSource: Why is that important from a user perspective?
Moore: It’s a slight difference. But it’s an enhancement that’s different from the rest of the ATM industry. The ATM industry is very tied to cards, so everything that a customer transacts with is based on the card [that accesses the ATM]. We’ve been able to [delink] that to allow more customer access and flexibility to make credit card payments.

PaymentsSource: What is the user base for this new feature?
Moore: One of the reasons that we made the ‘delink’ move was that most customers don’t link their card accounts together. Many of our customers get their credit cards from Wells Fargo at a different time than when they open a checking account, which is accessed by the ATM or debit card.

PaymentsSource: Wells Fargo has in the past tied its ATMs to internal systems to enable broader services. Is there a similar integration behind the new credit card options?
Moore: The customer enters their card and PIN and chooses an option that says ‘make a payment.’ That option is tied to technology that goes to our host system which has the data on the customer and his or her accounts, and then relays that information to the customer about that payment, when it is due, options to make that payment, and then information about the payment’s execution. It sounds simple, but ATMs have not really been programmed that way in the past.

PaymentsSource: Are there other card features that are included?
Moore: We have another feature where customers can see balances for rewards programs. Again, it’s another extension of making navigation easier and more personalized based on the user.

PaymentsSource: What will the design of the payments portion of the ATM user interface look like?
Moore: As we add more products to the ‘make a payment’ function we will put that button next to the ‘get cash’ function. The overall look and feel of the ATM design is different…the new design is customized so the customers can see options such as transaction history. We are also able to give customers reminders about their payments on credit cards. We can put up messages for customers, who can see if their payment is coming up or is past due, and they can navigate directly to the ‘make a payment’ option. We wanted to make it a little easier to connect.

PaymentsSource: The navigation capabilities sound a lot like what’s found on new tablet apps. How were decisions made regarding design?
Moore: When we set out to design the interface, we got feedback from customers about what they would like their ‘favorite’ buttons to look like…they wanted these button features to be larger. At the same time, we were looking around the consumer electronics space. Consumer electronics has really changed customer expectations around technology over the past few years.

PaymentsSource: Are there goals for increasing ATM use?
Moore: We don’t really have usage goals per se. But we want to offer lots of options at the channel. So if customers are at the ATM and a credit card payment is due, they should be able to find out about that and make that payment within a click or two. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story provided a different size for Wells' overall ATM fleet. It has approximately 12,000 machines.

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