Webinar

How to effectively sail-through the effects of COVID-19 on ATM Network Services?

Wed 13th May 2020

Topics of discussion today

How to effectively sail-through the effects of COVID-19 on ATM Network Services?

Due to the prevailing global COVID-19 pandemic, many financial institutions around the world are forced to work with reduced resources, however, with a greater expectation of keeping essential ATM channel services up and running 24/7. If the impact of COVID-19 is going to be around for some time, how do retail banks institutionalize social distancing best practices, with minimal impact to business? How to effectively make “work from home” a reality and still be able to provide superior services to customers?

In this webinar, Vortex Engineering will help you understand how you can make your ATM network management more effective and in fact much easier even during the times of any pandemic.

Topics of Discussion:

  1. How to implement social distancing and work from home policies using collaboration tools with zero-impact to essential services?
  2. What impact does COVID-19 have on your ATM Network P&L?
    1. How to increase the effectiveness of ATM monitoring?
    2. How to increase footfalls into your ATM network?
  3. What is lacking in the existing systems and procedures of ATM Management and how to mitigate them effectively?
  4. Benefits, ROI and USPs of our product – “Perfo® – A complete self-service ATM management and monitoring software solution”.

Challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic on Financial Institutions and ATM Operators

In the past 2 months, as everyone knows, there is not a single day without corono virus being a subject matter of discussion on news channels, newspapers, markets and even household discussions. Irrespective of the size of the economy, every country has declared emergency and economic stimulus packages are being announced. Economic experts and industry experts predict a much greater impact than “The Great Depression”. Many of the top financial institutions have acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic could be the most serious challenge in nearly a century. On a lighter note, we are already hearing from Government health secretaries that people will have to get used to the situation and learn to live with Corana!

I remember someone quoting that “Social Distancing” is in fact “Economic Distancing”. Economies are crippling and unemployment is on the rise. However, every such economic depression and recession reminds us of Darwin’s “Survival of the fittest”. The ultimate “Survivors” will be hailed “The real COVID Heroes”.

When it comes to banking and ATM channel related services, there are quite a few important challenges that I see many financial institutions are facing and are in the course of tackling them. Based on my interactions with various financial institutions and reports flowing in from various industry corners, the top 3 challenges include

  1. Ensuring business continuity despite operating with lesser workforce to enforce social distancing.
  2. Rethinking and repositioning of business strategy & operations strategy.
  3. Trimming down the cost and improving the efficiency of operations.

The above set of challenges poses a set of questions in front of the industry.

  1. Is the necessary infrastructure in place to enable the transition?
  2. Particularly in the context of “Work from home” becoming a new norm, how to ensure that regulatory compliances are not compromised?
  3. Are the existing digital systems really designed for remote work?
  4. Are there enough data analytics and indicators which can help re-strategize the business and operations?

Rise of Digital Payments and the Relevance of Cash

Digital Payment Trends and Where does Cash stand?

  1. Many reports say that currency notes are acting as carriers of the virus, but on the contrary, the risk posed is no greater than touching any other common surface. The same risk exists with usage of credit and debit cards too.
  2. Contactless transactions and other digital wallet transactions are on the rise and there is a significant drop in cash withdrawals around the globe.
  3. Because of stay-at-home mandates, there is a different pattern that is evolving; people are visiting ATMs less frequently, but withdrawing higher amounts than pre-COVID times.

In fact, the first thing that I did post lockdown announcement was to withdraw cash sufficient enough for a month. Last Sunday, we organized a direct-from-farmer veggie distribution in my community living apartment and it was interesting to find that about 25% of the payments was done in cash only despite the fact that 80% of the residents are employed in IT companies.

Conclusion:

  1. Cash is still strong and plays a vital part of the payment infrastructure amid any crisis or emergency. The 1.7 billion unbanked people in the world rely heavily on cash.
  2. Availability of cash has to be ensured at all costs. So, it is all the more important to maintain 24/7 availability of ATM networks.

Key Challenges and Problems in running an ATM network

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During times of pandemic, are banks well equipped to handle the challenges? Do banks have the same accessibility of systems and processes from home? Every individual in the organization desires to continue work and provide the best of service, but, not at the cost of their lives, hence, the remote accessibility to bank’s existing systems (EJ, recon, switch reports, claims, etc) is what is the need of the hour.

In order to enable work from home, banks are providing remote access by opening up the critical infrastructure. We have seen office PCs being packed and carried home, new laptops being procured and given to employees, remote desktop sessions being allowed into the critical internal systems. Security experts are continuously warning against these practices and providing guidelines to securely enable remote access to the employees. Online hackers are having a field day during the lockdown. Although there are VPN technologies that can be deployed, it really depends on the choice of VPN providers and the configuration controls put in place. Hackers just need one misconfiguration to break in.

Instead of opening up the complete infrastructure for access from home, client access into the applications is a much secure way of operation. The client access can either be a web portal access or through a mobile application. Such client access is to be completely secure with two-factor authentication in terms of TLS encryption and username/passwords.

And moreover, adoption of cloud is witnessing a big surge. Cloud service providers and data center providers are reporting that Covid is a blessing in disguise. Many financial institutions are moving their systems to the cloud and gaining anytime anywhere access through mobile applications and web portals. So, it’s time to embrace the cloud and set yourself free of infrastructure management headaches.

Perfo® - Addressing the Key Challenges

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Perfo® – All in one, well integrated solution

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Perfo® – Empowering Branch Managers and Vendors alike

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When I was talking to an operations team in a big bank, they said one of their big concerns in remote work from home scenario is about monitoring employee productivity. I was telling them that a majority of people are true to their self when it comes to work ethics. It is only the combination of simpler processes, tools and the review mechanisms that would enable them to be productive.

Perfo® empowers the branch managers by making the processes simpler and is a very easy to use well integration system. As you can see in the above screenshots, the ATM status, electronic journals and camera images/videos of front facing camera, cash slot camera and DVSS surveillance camera are well integrated and quickly accessible for dispute resolution.

Perfo® – Branch Access Mobile Application for the Operations Team

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Perfo® – Incident Resolution and Collaboration Tools

A good incident management system goes a long way in automating the incident creation, assignments, reminders, escalations and notifications to all parties concerned. No more phone calls to parties to track issues.

Moreover, COVID lockdown has resulted in the closure of many shopping malls, hotels, office complexes and entertainment venues, so, ATMs present in these venues have been non-operational. When lockdown relaxations kick in, it will be a humongous task to bring back these ATMs up and running. A lot of collaboration will be required between the bank, branches and the service vendors. Perfo’s incident management system will be a really handy tool to easy out the pressure on the ATM department.

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Perfo® – Performance Analytics for the Operations Team

Perfo’s Business Analytics module comes with preconfigured set of dashboards and reports which help the ATM operations team to spot any anomalies quickly. An intuitive dashboard providing a last 7 day view of uptime trends, incident trends and transaction trends across zones, OEMs and service providers gives a clear hint on channel performance.

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Perfo® – Incident Analytics for the Operations Team

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Perfo® – Transaction Analytics for the Business Team

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Perfo® – Upcoming modules and functionality

Following is a list of modules and functionality that we are working on for the near future. With this addition of new functionality, we believe Perfo would add much more value to customers.

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I would like to refer to a recent article in ETCIO about the role of a CIO post Covid-19 pandemic. The article clearly points out that Service Management enabled with Digital Signatures is going to take a front seat in the innovation landscape. Happy to share that Vortex Perfo® roadmap already covers it and we are in line with the industry expectations. Following is an extract from the article.

https://cio.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/strategy-and-management/role-of-a-cio-post-covid-19-pandemic/75620135

Service Management: Operations, maintenance, and service management will see a massive change in the existing process to reduce dependence on human travel and physical presence. Software using IoT and AI/ML for remote monitoring operations, faults detection and auto-correction will see a quick rise along with integration to field force and spare part management. This will ensure ensure much higher productivity and lesser reliance on a handful of experienced service experts.

Digital Signatures and validations: Digital signatures have been adopted for compliance or security checks in critical operations so far. However, due to constraints of handling physical papers as well as support to a remote working model, we may see an explosion of digital signature requirements, which will require process and software alignments.

These are some of the leading trends that organizations will witness in the post-COVID-19 world. It will be important for CIOs to be part of a strategic think tank and chart this path proactively and get required organization support. While preparing for the post-COVID-19 world, when the world economic order re-establishes in a new avatar, organizations must act now to adopt a robust digital strategy that is aligned to the overall strategy of the organization to create a sustainable future.

Thank You

Bramanandha Reddy
Vice President – Software Business
Vortex Engineering