Consumers See ATMs as Short on Safety

By Barthel, Matt | American Banker, September 8, 1993 | Go to article overview

Consumers See ATMs as Short on Safety


Barthel, Matt, American Banker


THE ATM SECURITY MEASURES taken by the nation's financial institutions often fall short of consumer safety expectations, according to a recently published survey.

Synergistics Research Corp., based in Atlanta, found that over 90% of consumers believe alarm buttons linked to the police are an important safety feature of an ATM site. And 84% of consumers feel telephones near the machines would help if a robbery were to occur.

Despite these figures, research from the American Bankers Association shows that as of 1992, less than 3% of banks had installed direct police hookups or other emergency hot buttons, and fewer than 10% of financial institutions had phones in their ATM sites.

Consumer awareness of ATM safety has been brought to the fore by several high-profile robberies that have resulted ATM security legislation in several areas of the country.

Data suggesting consumers are dissatisfied with ATM safety measures could obviously fuel the push for legislated security measures. But more important to bankers is how consumer perception of ATM sites affects the image of their institution.

"It is in each individual bank's best interest to make ATM customers feel safe," said Kurt Schaub. director of communications for the New Jersey Bankers Association, which is cooperating with state government in establishing ATM security standards.

Since the automated teller machine is the only regular contact many customers have with their bank, "customer opinion of ATM services, whether positive or negative, can often establish the whole image of the bank," said Mr. …

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