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   Kiosks and ATMs: Making a case for convergence

Is the gap between kiosks and ATMs closing? Yes, at least a little.

Greg Swistak, executive director of the Kiosks.org Association, and Bob Fincher, executive vice president of sales and marketing for NetWorld Alliance, agree the gap is closing. In fact, Fincher recently made a presentation on the topic at the ATMIA Conference West in San Diego entitled, "ATMs and the Kiosk/Self-Service Industries." Swistak said he heard a lot at the show about convergence — the idea that kiosks and ATMs could soon provide some of the same functionality. 

One of the issues facing the industries is how to tell the difference between their machines. Once the kiosk takes on the traits of the ATM, it may no longer be considered a kiosk. Swistak also referenced an example from the show: Tranax’s addition of a sidecar to dispense tickets from an ATM at sports venues. Once Tranax made the change, did its ATM become a kiosk? Swistak asked. That’s a question industry leaders are asking. 

For ATM sales and service organizations, regardless of whether the device is a kiosk or an ATM, the goal is to make money, Swistak said. ATM sales organizations and ISOs have to modify their thinking when it comes to convergence. The kiosk "resembles what they sell, but it’s a totally different business model than they are used to seeing."

A "compelling" business model is what Fincher points to when making a case for convergence. Since 93 percent of ATM transactions are cash-dispensing and balance-inquiry, the ATM industry is becoming more open-minded about selling kiosk functionality, Fincher said. One reason for that is the dedicated functionality many kiosks offer, without the need for customization and software integration. Fincher predicts that such self-service devices will one day be placed next to ATMs in convenience stores, for example.

All of those devices, Fincher added, regardless of whether they provide a revenue stream, will drive traffic into the store.

The Tranax Mini-Bank 2500 was one of the machines at ATMIA West that evidenced convergence. It dispenses cash and event tickets..

When it comes to getting involved in placing kiosks, Fincher said, ATM folks are nicely placed: They are savvy and already on the ground. Comparatively, the kiosk industry has been immature in selling and servicing devices en masse.

"The ATM sales organizations own the real estate for kiosk placement, and they own the relationships with the people." 

Exhibitors at the ATMIA show revamped their products to reflect the growing interest in convergence, Swistak said. One vendor, for instance, offered a photo-processing kiosk for hotel lobbies, whereby the ISO would make money on each photograph dispensed. Ideally, the kiosk would be placed next to the ISO’s ATM machine. 

Swistak agreed with Fincher that ATM sales organizations and ISOs benefit from having established relationships with their customers and established locations for their devices. However, as "pure capitalists," those groups need numbers on paper to convince them of kiosk-functionality and the need to sell kiosks. 

The line between kiosks and ATMs is definitely blurring, Swistak and Fincher said. The good news is that the industries are considering new functionality for their perspective machines, and vendors are responding with new products and services to market through them. Will the gap completely close? Only time will tell.

BY Lisa Kerner, contributing editor 06 Oct 2004 



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