Why ATM banking will only become smarter: John Tait, Managing Director Asia Pacific at TNS

Firstly, could you tell me about your role at TNS?

I’m the Managing Director for our payments services division across the Asia Pacific region at Transaction Network Services.  I look after our investments in all the markets that we operate in for APAC.

My role is responsible for executing our growth agenda across the region, which includes driving our customer acquisition strategy, improving customer satisfaction and ensuring that we make our service and reliability as superior as possible within the many varied and individual markets I cover.

The latest TNS report shows the different ATM-related behaviours between consumers in the UK, US and Australia. Please tell us a bit about this.

In the context of payments across these three regions, the key insight is that Australia has the lowest amount of ATM withdrawals, and the primary driver for this is the success of contactless payments in the Australian marketplace and the access to “fee free” cash at POS terminals in most Australian retail locations.

Australia now has the highest number of contactless users per capita in the world. The ubiquity of contactless payments, enhanced with the applications from Visa and Mastercard, has meant that we’re seeing the ability and speed of contactless to be one of the main instruments for low value payments meaning we see lower ATM withdrawal numbers compared to the US and UK.

ATMs have been around for 50 years. What will the future of ATM banking look like?

I think there will always be a place for ATM banking in most economies. What we’ll see in the more mature markets is that ATMs will become more sophisticated devices with the advent of technology that enables them to be almost kiosk-like in their applications and utility.

They will be able to support everything from bill payments, to utilities payments through to dispensing of tokens and gift cards.  All the new technologies in banking will be adopted by ATMs and gradually emerge in time

The ATM will become a smarter place to bank with a broader set of products and solutions that are deeper in customer support to enable self-service banking that is much more advanced than cash dispensing and deposit acceptance.

How can banks leverage reducing fraud with frequent ATM usage?

I think the important tool to be employed here is the advent of technology. Fraud at ATMs can be reduced by the advancements that we’ve seen from the ATM manufacturers and card issuers.

The biggest aspect that creates an opportunity for reduction in fraud will be the natural shift from card based transactions from reading the magnetic stripe to utilisation of card based transactions with a contactless chip. This, in itself, will help reduce the fraud that happens with ATMs and is likely the biggest factor to help mitigate ATM fraud.

How are consumer habits changing alongside the innovation happening in financial services?

I think the trends shaping the industry are based on the demographic of individuals. Many generational shifts in payments trends are not material; it takes time to see consumer behaviours move, typically payment behaviours are engrained,, whether it’s the use of cash, cheques or cards, it takes time to see the migration to new instruments.

As we are seeing now in the Millennial demographic, there is a shift as this demographic becomes more comfortable with mobility and digital payments.  Additionally, Millennials will be more open to payment methods from non-traditional players. These won’t always come from traditional banking participants, it will be from new entrants such as Facebook, AliPay, WeChat Pay and Google, for example.

In addition, as an industry I believe we’ll be more accepting of digital currencies as they become more mainstream and if they are regulated by the central banks and regulators. Digital currencies will certainly be a way that we process more payments and that will leverage distributed ledgers and more of the capabilities available around that technology set.

What were you most surprised about in the TNS ATM Usage report?

The one thing that stood out to me is the impact that contactless payments has had on Australia. The other aspect that’s been interesting is the access to cash at retailers.

Whilst we’ve focused on the UK, US and Australia, I think in the context of Asia Pacific, we have very different market dynamics across more than 30 countries. Some markets are very mature, but there are also emerging markets where ATM deployment and cash utilisation continues to be the main form of payments that consumers choose. Working alongside customer needs is an important part of our business and we continue to strive to support those markets who are still big users of cash payments. It’s fascinating observing the different markets.

Download your complimentary copy of the TNS Global Variances in ATM Usage report here

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