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Thin ATMs: The Next Big Thing?

Thin ATMs: The Next Big Thing?

It is time for technology to go “thin!” I mean, literally…

Thin ATMs that run on “thin-client” technology, typically comprise of an Android tablet and applications residing in the cloud. This architecture enables remote upgrades/ installation of services without the need for physical ATMs. Conversely, traditional Windows based-thick clients perform local processing at the user system level and require onsite maintenance. Traditional ATMs are based on Windows XP which means that they normally incur costly upgrades to Windows 7.

I believe that in this scenario, banks can actually achieve 40% saving in operating costs of an ATM network by shifting their ATMs to a cloud-based system with centralized control.

How Thin ATMs can save on costs

Thin ATMs can save on software as well as hardware costs. The complete display system, keypad, HMI processor, & communication hardware can be replaced with a thin mobile or tablet. The tablet will be connected to the system PC via an Interface. This interface will act as a communication link between the system PC & the tablet. The bank’s financial network and service networks do not connect with each other. This service can also be provided via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled smartphones connected to the interface.

Along with ease of service, Android-based systems can enable increased security since the platform gives software developers access to the source code enabling them to build stringent security codes while making upgrades easier. Any Windows-based system necessitates rewriting the entire security code. Increased security can be provided by shifting application logic from physical devices to the cloud and to the enterprise.

Comparison between new-generation ATMs and Traditional ATMs

These new generation ATMs are also smarter than the traditional ones with more features and flexibility for service technicians due to the interface module. The interface module provides local service interface with access using touchscreen and keyboard via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition, the interface provides connectivity to a client tablet or a smartphone authorized by a service person. Some features of such ATMs are listed below:

  • Local service interface (at the ATM) in place of the system processor accessed using LCD screen or using a client tablet or smartphone carried by the service person.
  • Secure authorized service logon with near field communications (NFC) transceiver to allow the use of RFID user identification
  • Secure data storage repository
  • Remote wireless access utilizing a 1x/3G/4G wireless modem.
  • Remote wired access to the data and functions utilizing a 10/100/1000 Ethernet interface
  • Remotely manage the power state of the entire ATM to reduce the power consumption of an ATM fleet.

Thin client ATMs have several advantages of ease of service, remote upgrades, cost savings in hardware & software and flexibility to add new features to users. However there are security issues that restrict widespread adoption. 17% of ATM industry experts say that security/fraud/data breaches are the top threat. Key fear is if a traditional ATM is hacked, only one ATM is affected. But if a cloud-based thin client is hacked, the entire network is under threat. The hackers can access 10,000 ATMs from a single loophole and the risk levels for banks become significantly higher. It is a challenge for ATM manufacturers like NCR, Diebold, Wincor-Nixdorf, Nautilus-Hyosung, Triton and others to address the security issues competently, so that ATMs can soon be implemented in a thin and smart manner.

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