ATM As a Service – Is this a viable alternative to owning ATMs?

As I talk to some of the hundreds of customers that we have sold ATM’s to, I always ask about pain points and how we can help make them go away.
Inevitably, I always hear about the pain of Windows 7 migration and the looming EMV challenge. Matching the processor and their certification schedule with the need to turn on various functions is also a major problem. Many of our customers rely on us to manage all of these issues for them and we take that as an honorable and challenging role.
That leads me to a thought: how can we remove some of or even most of the pain? One option, though not for everyone, is ATM as a service. The basic concept is that we replace the customer’s ATM’s with new ones, run them on our own processor, and provide services for a monthly fee.
While ISO’s have been placing retail ATM’s for years, we are now seeing several versions of ATM placements with Financial Institutions. The needs and the deliverables are clearly different.
Some clear needs of Financial Institutions that Retail does not have:
• Daily reporting and reconciliation (These are still their customers)
• Regulatory Compliant Coverage (Reg E, PCI, Etc.,)
• “On Us” and “Off Us” customer transaction flows.
There are obviously more but this is a start. In some cases, we have found that all this can be provided and more for less than the Financial Institution’s current cost of ownership.
While this takes care of some customer pain, it also puts us in firm control using a common processor that can certify EMV before installation, allow for common Customer Deploy-able Images and push down updates because it is all on our communication line.
It this for everyone? No. For an institution with limited resources, or a real desire to reduce their resources dedicated to the ATM channel, though, this can be a compelling solution.
If you are interested, we are happy to have that conversation.

A Case For Equipment Leasing

We are seeing more and more Financial Institutions becoming burdened by equipment upgrades due to security, operating system and/or new credit card industry requirements. Many are finding that replacing old equipment is simply the best idea if upgrades are inclusive.

But new set-up problems arise: Cash Availability and ROA creep.

First let me address technology. Many see PCs and Copiers as things with a short technology life and schedule them for replacement, often leasing and simply replacing them at the end of the lease. I see security, ATMs and branch equipment much the same way. While the equipment I list should last longer than a copier or a PC, technological advances could always warrant a replacement every 5 years or so. Think about the advances in Cameras in just the last 5 years!

Better stated, leasing lets you stay on top of technological advances with minimal expense or risk.

Of course, cash usage is always an issue, just as the problem of adding assets is. Our leasing solutions can significantly lower your upfront costs, preserving working capital and freeing up cash. We offer fair market value expense leases, which turn what would have been assets into operating expenses. This protects your Return on Assets ratio while letting you stay in front of the technology curve with all the latest equipment.
Listening to our customers, we have customized leases to include service and parts, allow upgrades mid- lease, and flexible payment structures.

We love seeing more happy customers. This is one way we both win!

Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Current Security Program

I read with a mix of disgust and confusion how crooks are costing Financial Institutions millions through everything from data breaches to skimming. A recent article  tells me that our current estimate of $50,000 of cost per data breach is a low number. Today there are ways to protect yourself and I truly believe that we are on the leading edge with Diebold’s Project Protect. More about that later.

I will say I have been encouraged to see some of the best security set ups in small two or three branch institutions. You do not have to be big to take security seriously anymore. I have heard interesting stories about how security programs were started and some of the things to look for.

It is probably not practical to invest in a security program until you really understand where you are now. There are a lot of components to consider. Let’s focus on your ATM fleet for starters:

How are software updates and patches delivered? Are you up to date? By now you are all on Windows 7, but are patches and updates still flowing? If you are not on Windows 7 yet, the red flags should be waving. This is possibly the most important thing that can easily be fixed. In the past, this was not as important, but nowadays nobody can afford not to have the latest security update, virus protection update, etc.

Has your firewall been tested? How are you protecting your hard drive and motherboard? there are products available today that are inexpensive and robust solutions from whitelisting to disk encryption.

Now let’s think about your whole facility, starting with cameras. Are they actively monitored? Are they pointing at the right things? Is the resolution high enough to see license plates or faces?

This is a high level overview, but you get the idea. This topic is explored in detail at There is a lot of information on the site including webinars, product and service demonstrations and good ideas.

I look forward to a world were we get ahead of the crooks for a change.

Some Thoughts on Managed Services

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New year. My time with family (and watching a lot of football) was great here. But with the holidays now behind us, I started to think more about 2015 and the challenges that are coming for all of us, and my mind moved to, “How can we make life easier for our customers?”
There are a lot of answers, continuing the ESI philosophy of ‘putting customers first,’ providing honest and timely feedback on all requests, etc. One that is always a good thought is for us to take some load off of our customers’ plates by using managed services.
First, what are managed services? These take many roles, such as; remote security monitoring, patch management at the ATM, even cash management. In this conversation, I’ll focus on three basic packages that can be implemented for less than $100 per month.
Our ATM security package includes Remote Patch Management (Patching of the Software Stack), Endpoint Protection (Anti-Spyware/Malware Protection – 24/7 Monitoring) and Anti-Skimming Detection. This package addresses keeping all the security measures available up to date and monitored. In a most recent wave of Windows 7 upgrades, we find that many ATMs have not had patches applied in years. This is obviously something that must be watched in today’s business environment.
Our Marketing package includes basics such as Intro Screens (‘Welcome,’’ Please Wait,’ & ‘Thank You’ – Change out 1x per Month), Personalization and Segmentation. These are good applications to keep your customer experience relevant and dynamic at the ATM. Concierge Video takes it one (giant) step even further. Look for more on that soon…
Our Operations package includes Remote Diagnostics with 24/7 Monitoring and Electronic Capture of your Electronic Journal Files.
I’m just scratching the surface here, but the list of services available could really fill several pages. The purpose is just to start a dialogue. I never want to assume that I know what my customer needs. What I can offer is a conversation to hear what you need and to see whether we have something that can provide real help to you.
As the year moves forward, I hope to share more thought provoking ideas along these lines. Happy 2015 to you all.


Building a Cash Recycler from the Ground Up

I want to take you on a journey of building something new. Well, maybe not totally new, but taking something that’s out there and making it better, making it really unique.

Some of you have seen press on our soon –to-arrive THR-250 Cash Recycler. I get a lot of questions about its cost, functionality and capacity. All of those are important, but the main word I want to focus on here is ‘simplicity.’ I love the statement attributed to the inventor Miguel Lopez, “Why does a cash recycler have to be so complex? It doesn’t!”

I have two confessions: I am not smart enough to figure out a complex machine. I am also completely sold on the THR 250 and how easy it is to use.

This recycler was built from the ground up with the idea of simplicity but no preconceived notions of how it should work. Of course it has to recognize money, detect counterfeits and separate bills for recycling, but beyond that there is a wave of complexity to many machines that needed to be reexamined.

With the THR 250, the note path is short, straight and forgiving. Gone are the multiple belt paths (I’ve also heard them called ‘multiple jam paths’). We have added functionality to accept but separate unfit currency, giving the user the ability to spend less time sorting notes before putting them inside the machine.

Now that said, there are many functions that still blow me away. The ability to scan serial numbers and checks, a 3,000 note offload cassette, the ability to change from small to large capacity drums or to cassettes with no software changes at all.

So this is a great machine, but where is it? In this case, we want to err on the side of perfection. Sample units are currently being performance tested, middleware certified and select banking system certifications are in process. We want this machine to be ready for action out of the box. I expect to see this machine on the market in late August 2015. Get ready.