Many in the arena of financial services spent tireless days and sleepless nights working to meet a March 15, 2012 deadline for new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements at their ATMs. This Ides of March has past, but woe to any ATM operator who mistook that compliance date for the finish line. Rather than a check mark on the calendar, these new standards for ADA compliance must be treated as an ongoing institutional focus.
The revised regulations mandate that all U.S. ATMs meet enhanced standards for accessibility among the blind or visually impaired, and the majority of this compliance burden falls on the owner – either of the ATM itself or the location upon which the ATM sits. Sometimes that’s the same organization. Other times two separate parties are responsible for different components of compliance. A seemingly clear cut situation can actually be quite complicated.
Because of these complexities, financial institutions have found they are just beginning their work to meet more stringent ADA requirements. Some have even found themselves in the middle of class action lawsuits and other disputes over their ATM fleet. Were these financial institutions scofflaws? Hardly. Many actually already had compliance programs either in-place or in-motion.
While ADA does help ensure ATM accessibility for a greater percentage of the public, it also requires significant additional capital investment for service providers. Beyond the money, it puts ATM owners at the mercy of parts and service technician availability, and requires software-driven solutions that work exactly right, every single time.
Anyone with a basic understanding of economics, supply chain logistics, and the fickle nature of technology can understand that there’s a tipping point – at which the capital and time an institution is required to spend is not fully returned in the form of increased revenue, customer loyalty, marketplace awareness, or any other benefit.
Challenges abound, but until there’s an iPhone app that can print U.S. currency on-demand, providing members with convenient access to the cash in their accounts will always be a critical task for credit unions. How can your institution hedge against these rising costs and sometimes unpredictable circumstances?
A Wealth Of Options
Credit unions live in a world of multiple options and strategies. Today’s executives have a myriad of choices when it comes to building an accessible, convenient, and profitable ATM program. The table below highlights some of these strategies, along with their risks and benefits.
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In matters of risk, regulation, and compliance – whether it’s revised ADA requirements, new data security standards, or another matter – it’s not a question of if a credit union will reach a tipping point but when. Institutions can rest a little easier knowing that they have options at their disposal to help strike the balance once more.
As Executive Vice President, Network and Financial Services, Ben Psillas is responsible for payments-related products and services which leverage Cardtronics’ valuable network of prime retail ATM locations for financial institutions, including Allpoint Network, bank branding and managed services. To learn more about Cardtronics’ and Allpoint Network’s solutions for credit unions of all sizes, visit cardtronics.com, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.