Self-Serve Future

NCR sees cell-phones, Internet as part of its self-service vision

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

CHICAGO--NCR is touting a new message—one that goes beyond the retail hardware of ATMs and POS devices it is currently known for in this channel. It's a self-service vision that executives call "broader than the physical."

As part of this larger vision, the Dayton, Ohio-based company is seeking to bring the expertise it has accrued on the "back end" of automation to offer electronic options such as cell-phone messaging and Internet-based services.

In Chicago to explain the company's new course, Brian Bailey, vice president of financial industry marketing for NCR, told CSP Daily [image-nocss] News that future applications may include the ability to send money transfers to a cell phone, whereby the recipient could then visit a nearby c-store to pick up the cash.

The opportunity for retailers to become the financial center for its customers--as well as for the sizable "unbanked" demographic--is stronger than ever, Bailey said, especially as smaller banking institutions look to gain market presence by partnering with local c-stores.

"It'll be interesting to see it all play out," Bailey said. "Who's going to be the trusted advocate for these [financial] services? It's a great opportunity for petroleum [and c-store] owners. There's a drastic need for advanced financial transactions."

While known for its automated teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (POS) registers, NCR has also developed experience in hosting applications for financial institutions, inclusive of online banking. Its ATM roots have generated longstanding relationships with banks, 200 of which have online programs with the company. NCR even works with Atlanta-based Delta Airlines with its online consumer services.

Though envisioning a more integrated self-service era, NCR has also taken steps to further evolve its hardware lines. Bailey said newer versions of the Vcom financial-services device that NCR built with Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. have been developed in a smaller, three-foot-wide dimension.

Near-term, Bailey said the c-store industry is probably going to focus on three key financial services: cash dispensing, bill payment and prepaid-card implementations, inclusive of prepaid credit and debit as well as payroll cards.

For NCR's long-term vision, Bailey said that people will still need ATMs and other self-serve kiosks, despite the growing use of mobile and online applications. "We're seeing ATM use grow for the first time in [several] years," he said, speculating that people may be using cash as a way to budget in today's harsh economy. "There's a need to create more options while not [alienating] customers who prefer existing services."

C-store operators are in a unique and valued position, he said. "Banks would [love to] see their customers come in twice a week, because as things are now with ATMs, they might not see their customers at all," Bailey said. "[C-stores] offer the values of convenience and self-service and have the opportunity to generate loyalty [that banks might not have]."

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
View More Articles By Angel Abcede