SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Cashless ATM Extends Banking's Reach

South Africa's First National Bank (FNB) has unveiled an innovative automatic teller machine (ATM) capable of delivering full digital banking via retail outlets to remote rural areas beyond the business reach of conventional ATMs.

FNB's Slimline ATM offers a large touch screen with an integrated camera, a card reader for CHIP and PIN enabled cards, and a numeric keypad.

Instead of dispensing cash, the Slimline ATM issues a slip that can be cashed at a retailer's till, crediting the retailer's account and thus lowering the risk and cost of holding additional cash in the shop.

FNB has already installed 960 Slimline ATMs in South Africa, and is extending Slimlines across its African subsidiaries, with installations under way in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland and Tanzania.

Aziz Cassim, head of self-service channels at FNB, described the Slimline as "a unique ATM designed specifically for emerging market and lower income needs", adding: "Slimline also has great potential across all our market segments from personal to business and commercial due to its deep digital banking ability."

Access to an ATM is a critical when enabling greater access to banking. According to the Finscope Consumer Survey of 2012, people in the lowest income groups spend nearly 100% more time accessing an ATM than people in middle and upper income groups. The survey showed that poorer customers took 47 minutes to access an ATM while better-off customers were able to do this in 23 minutes.

"Slimlines represent a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship for the retailer, bank and customer," Cassim said.

"While our now-retired mini-ATMs offered typical kiosk banking or voucher banking, Slimline approximates online banking with PIN and image verification. The new devices offer a rich banking platform to customers in remote locations, and we plan to expand services in coming months."

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