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Adapting to Make Payments from 6 Feet Away

NCR has been in the finance industry since 1884, so it’s seen a lot of changes in how consumers make payments and interact with their bank.

Adam Crighton

A lot of those changes have taken place in the past six months as the coronavirus has driven massive changes in consumer habits.

To get a sense of what the industry looks like from a company that makes not only software services but also self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, ATMs, barcode scanners, and more, we consulted Adam Crighton, Senior Vice President & General Manager at NCR Digital-First Self-Service Banking.

What changes in demand for contactless banking have you seen since the coronavirus hit?

Adam Crighton: Obviously at a time when bankers and tellers are unable to service customers face-to-face, digital experiences really have become a lifeline for many people. People are using digital banking to conduct transactions from home, they are connecting with tellers and branch staff through live digital chat sessions, and self-service capabilities like Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs).

With that heightened need for customers and businesses to connect remotely, some financial institutions may be feeling they have fallen behind in terms of digital delivery and digital transformation. The pandemic has not created this level of demand, but it is fair to say it has certainly accelerated it. We do see that many customers that prior to banking were not using digital banking are now much more inclined to try a digital app or self-service kiosk.

How has NCR adapted (or accelerated the scale of) its products and services to suit these new needs?

Crighton: From an NCR perspective our mission is to help our customers keep commerce running whether it’s banking, retail, or restaurants and to really stay connected with their customer base. Many of our customers that have invested in our digital banking solutions and ITMs over the last several years have told us that it has really been their go-to in terms of leveraging these technology platforms to compensate for things like branch closures, and generally more limited access to branches based on restrictions around the world.

Keeping their staff and customers safe is obviously something very top-of-mind at the moment while still trying to provide a high level of service that is convenient, intuitive, easy-to-use, and accessible on an extended basis. The digital and self-service channel has always been safe and trusted channel from a customer and client perspective, and I think that the situation and circumstances around the pandemic have actually strengthened and reinforced the strategic value of how it can help our customers support their customers.

Additionally, we have introduced innovative new offerings. Take, for example, our Anti-Microbial Coating Service for self-checkout machines, ATMs, point-of-sale machines including restaurant kiosks – which significantly limits the ability for viruses to live on surfaces, reducing the possibility of transmission through touch.

What types of systems did you have in place before the virus hit that helped you remain agile to pivot or accelerate operations to serve the increased demand for contactless banking?

Crighton: NCR is uniquely positioned to help our customers continue to deliver great service to their customers in the new environment that we are all operating in. We are migrating at different paces in different countries and geographies out of the pandemic slowly but surely and encouragingly, and we need to be thoughtful about which consumer behavior expectations will remain with us going forward and how can we provide value add and assist our customers in how they evolve the branch ecosystem going forward.

Self-service historically has been very much focused on the consumers for obvious reasons, and the pandemic from a work environment point of view has considerations and implications for all of us. So one aspect of the environment that the pandemic has created is the opportunity to collaborate with our customers and consider how the branch ecosystem evolves from the perspective of the branch staff and what we can do from a self-service technology and software point of view. We can evolve our operations in a way that adds value and helps staff to be more efficient going forward and realign their focus potentially, but most importantly, support a very safe working environment.

Specifically looking at in-person payments, what do you think the landscape will look like a couple of years from now after the dust has settled with the coronavirus?

Crighton: NCR is helping retailers minimize the amount of time spent touching things in the store via touchless tech that helps customers go through self-checkout without touching anything, by scanning and paying on their mobile device in the store, and physical distancing tech, which helps store clerks clear transactions on mobile device while staying six feet apart from the customer.

NCR is helping restaurant customers shift to a digital-first mindset and stay operational enabling the restaurant for takeout, with contactless solutions, curbside ordering and pick-up, mobile payments — from the way food is served to how we pay the check.

How about in-person banking needs such as ATMs and teller services? What will these services look like?

Crighton: From our perspective we feel strongly that banks, financial institutions and credit unions should really shift their focus to a digital-first mindset. Not a digital-only mindset, but certainly a digital-first mindset.

Obviously at a time when bankers and tellers are unable to service customers face-to-face, digital experiences really have become a lifeline for many people. People are using digital banking to conduct transactions from home, they are connecting with tellers and branch staff through live digital chat sessions, and self-service capabilities like ITMs. Certainly we believe many of these behaviors will continue into the future.


Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash