Wells Fargo has partnered with NCR to deploy an outdoor, full-service ATM designed to provide consumers extra transaction options in nontraditional locales.
The EMV-ready ATMs can handle extreme heat and cold without kiosk or housing protection, and can be placed on sidewalks, near parking lots and in front of apartment buildings, where Wells Fargo has made early deployments in the Washington, D.C. area.
The NCR SelfServ 37 ATM offers bank customers cash withdrawal, check cashing, bill and loan payments, cash or check deposits and other banking tasks. Currently, ATMs that banks place outdoors generally provide only cash withdrawal and need more space to include structures to protect the units from Mother Nature.
In addition, the new units can accommodate the U.S. migration to chip-based cards.
"All ATMs that Wells Fargo has been buying for years are EMV capable," said Alicia Moore, head of ATM banking at Wells Fargo. "They are hardware ready and just need the software written for them. We've been ready for some time."
The concept of an all-weather ATM is not unique, as other manufacturers such as Diebold with its Opteva 522 cash dispenser have products on the market as well.
But NCR is illustrating how important it is for an ATM provider to seek new hardware or software tools that add payments and other financial services to the all-weather concept, said ATM industry analyst Russ Schoper of Atlanta, Ga.-based Business Development International Inc.
"Wells Fargo is not going to do anything unless they have a good business case for it, so they have large bases of customers in areas with harsh weather that they want to serve," Schoper added.
In addition, the need for less square footage with the all-weather units was just as important a selling point for Wells Fargo as being able to deliver an ATM outdoors with more capabilities, Moore said. "In some markets it's really hard to find locations, so square footage is a big deal to us, as much as 24/7 access is a big deal to our customers," Moore said.
In the past, if a bank wanted an all-service ATM outdoors, it would move one from the bank lobby or one that previously operated as a drive-through unit.
That scenario created a problem for users because drive-through units have keypads and screens designed for customers to use "sideways" as they sit in their cars, Moore said. "When you take that implementation and put it on a sidewalk or parking lot where you can walk up to it, it was awkward and not user-friendly."
NCR tackled the challenge of making a smaller full-service ATM that included heating and air-conditioning functions to adjust to climate changes, while also making it easy for walk-up customers to use.
But building a climate control into the "smallest possible footprint" near the top of the ATM also allowed NCR to design the machine so it could also house a lighting control so consumers could see it from a distance, said Carmel Randell, product director for the hardware division of NCR.
"The idea is to build something that banks could find space for near stores, parking lots, or outside of a branch, and make it easily accessible for customers and service personnel," Randell said.
Development of all-weather ATMs sets the stage for banks in the future to continue operations if they choose to close existing branches or forego opening new ones, though Moore said that's not part of Wells Fargo's current strategy.
Wells Fargo took advantage of the all-weather ATMs to address the concern of some outdoor ATMs not being compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Previous outdoor ATMs may not have complied with ADA height and reach requirements established in 2012, but the NCR SelfServ 37 meets all of the standards.
For now, NCR is not building the units with video tellers, but that concept "is not something we would rule out in the future," Randell said.
More likely, the smaller, all-weather ATMs could find a place as a "pop-up ATM" to be moved to locations for one-time events at a sport arena or music venue.
"The money deposit function may not be needed at a sports arena, but this ATM will be much easier to move than other all-weather models that are larger and have extra housing," Randell added.