ATM innovation now in Africa


By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

There’s innovation in the air for Africa.

Or it least in the IT sector.

So for the first time in Africa, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) merchants can now access their ATM’s mission critical data remotely and in real-time following the launch of Cape Town-based SparkWeb, a secure web-based portal created by Spark ATM Systems.

And that data that can be viewed through SparkWeb includes, among others, current cash levels in the ATM, transactional data, historic statements, transaction reports, reimbursement reports, cash dispensed reports (including average, maximum and minimum values) and ATM performance graphs.

According to the latest Retail Banking Research Report, the Middle East and Africa regions are predicted to experience the fastest growing rate of ATM installations worldwide at 94% between 2009 and 2015. Innovations such as SparkWeb will play a crucial role in the African continent achieving these forecasted growth rates.

Being at the forefront of technological innovations in the African ATM industry, Spark ATM Systems has brought many other first-of-its-kind technologies to the African continent including pioneering dual-sim wireless cellular telecommunications for ATM connectivity which allows ATMs to operate wirelessly, mitigating the need for landline connectivity, as well as the development of SparkConnect, SparkView and SparkManage, an internally-developed software suite which manages all transaction processing, switching, monitoring, alerting and management of the ATM network.

In addition to the technological innovations, Spark ATM Systems prides itself in providing innovative customer-centered solutions in the form of automated merchant settlements for dispensed cash, SMS alerting for low cash levels and a prompt industry-leading 6-hour return-to-service SLA agreement. Spark ATM merchants also have the option to further capitalise through the availability of franchise advertising opportunities and advertising rebates.

And according to Marc Sternberg, Managing Director of Spark ATM Systems, as with any industry, having access to critical data is key to making well-informed and advantageous business decisions, while also enabling a deeper knowledge of consumer needs and trends – especially in the fast-developing African continent.

“By having access to this type of information, merchants can accurately predict busy periods and therefore ensure their ATM is fully stocked for these crucial times. Furthermore, merchants can access SparkWeb from their mobile phones or laptop, meaning they can be anywhere and still know exactly how their ATM is performing.”

Sternberg adds the new portal has myriad benefits to merchants from a business growth perspective. “For example, by accessing the reimbursement report, merchants can accurately predict exactly how much money will be reimbursed back into their bank account, thereby allowing them to make payments to their suppliers timorously, without having to worry about cash-flow issues.”

In conclusion, he explains that merchants can keep abreast of their ATM’s performance through the cash dispensed report which compares current performance with the average, maximum and minimum values achieved over the searched period.

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