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Banking as an on-demand experience

A surcharge-free ATM network offers value to account holders and helps financial services providers respond to competitive market pressures.

Jul 13, 2022 / Consumer Banking

An emerging ecosystem of digital and physical channels is an opportunity for banks to reach customers not just around the corner but around the country. A surcharge-free ATM network can allow any bank to put its brand in front of account holders where they live, work and play.

According to a recent national survey, three-quarters of consumers say they’ll do anything to avoid paying an ATM surcharge fee, and more than half say they actively seek out ATMs in a surcharge-free network. Fintechs and neobanks understand this and are rapidly adopting surcharge-free ATM networks as their physical bank “branch” of choice.

Surcharge-free ATM networks give consumers tens of thousands of banking access points in high-traffic locations all over the country on a 24/7 basis. Bank-branded ATMs, which customize third-party-managed kiosks with the partner banks’ brand assets, provide surcharge-free cash delivery in strategic new-entry and competitive markets. Integrating a surcharge-free ATM network into your retail banking footprint may deliver real value to account holders.

Consider the members of a modern household juggling work and family. Between Zoom calls, walking the dog, picking up kids from school and getting them to soccer, people have little time to grab lunch, let alone make it to the bank branch where they may face reduced hours and long lines.

Instead, imagine that branch folded into a full-function, surcharge-free financial kiosk available virtually any time of the day or night, including during the 11 p.m. dash to the store for a pint of chocolate ice cream. Completing banking tasks at the time and place of the customer’s choosing becomes a value-added service differentiator that deepens brand loyalty.

Omnichannel promotes engagement

Getting cash and making deposits are mainstay services of ATMs, but increasingly these devices are becoming true “automated teller” machines that incorporate service extensions such as the ability to check balances, get statement copies, make account transfers and pay bills. Next-generation capabilities, such as cardless access and crypto transactions, are on the horizon. These capabilities make the ATM channel a fully realized component of digital banking.

As consumer use of self-service channels increases, brand engagement becomes even more critical. In its 2013 retail banking study, J.D. Power found that banks that improve customer commitment levels among self-service customers see an overall increase in net revenue. According to that report, converting even small percentages of low- and medium-commitment customers to high-commitment customers can pay off in the form of higher interest revenue from greater deposits, investments and loans.

To effectively leverage these new dynamics, retail banks must consider what’s most important when selecting a surcharge-free network to improve customer experience and service. Some o things banks should prioritize include access to locations relevant to customers; an installed base of modern and secure ATMs; the ability to brand devices with the same look and feel of those located on-site; and the market expertise required to deliver services consistent with the promises being made to consumers.


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Banking customers have come to expect access to a range of self-service channels. Banks that fail to address these growing expectations do so at their own peril. Today’s customers can create their own personal Main Street, where service providers are open 24/7 and free from geographic constraints. These customers expect services to be integrated across all channels and are critical of piecemeal solutions.

At the same time, banks need greater efficiencies and better brand awareness. The branch of the future is an omnichannel ecosystem in which customers access banking services on their own time and in the manner best suited to them.

We are in an exciting period of banking innovation—one in which banks are becoming truly customer-centric, striving to eliminate service friction and focusing on building long-lasting, valuable relationships. Adding a robust, global, surcharge-free ATM network to this ecosystem checks many of these innovation boxes and provides real value to customers and banks alike.

Steve Nogalo
is executive vice president for North America financial institutions at NCR.

Learn how bank branches are evolving for the future in this BAI Executive Report, “Branch banking continues its radical evolution.”