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Richard Li Tzar-Kai

Shop till you HOP! Get cash and e-commerce deliveries on same ATM

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 7:14pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 8:06pm

Efforts to expand the number of automated teller machines in Hong Kong could see a big boost this year, under a new initiative to swiftly deploy ATMs as part of a network of all-in-one banking and postal terminals.

NCR, the world’s biggest supplier of ATMs, has teamed up with courier services provider LTF Asia and PCCW, the flagship conglomerate of media and telecommunications mogul Richard Li Tzar-kai, to establish so-called logistics teller machines across the city.

“Participating banks will be able to reduce their ATM deployments costs by about 50 per cent, while expanding their branch locations, generating increased revenue and improving customer experience,” Keith Au, NCR’s general manager for financial services in Hong Kong and Taiwan, told the South China Morning Post.

READ MORE: This is your ATM speaking: Fubon Bank rolls out virtual teller ATMs across its Hong Kong branches

Research firm RBR has cited high site rental and operational costs among the reasons for Hong Kong’s small number of ATM installations, which has contracted for three consecutive years after reaching a peak in 2012.

At the end of December 2014, the city’s network of ATMs decreased 76 per cent year on year to 3,322 units.

RBR estimated that Hong Kong only provided 467 ATMs per million people, despite its longstanding reputation as a major financial services hub. The city had a population of 7.29 million people at the end of June last year.

Singapore, with a population of 5.54 million as of June 30, had 501 ATMs per million people.

Au said the logistics teller machine programme would integrate NCR’s advanced ATMs with the automated parcel locker service, marketed under the brand “House of Parcels” or “HOP!”, that was introduced last year by LTF Asia and PCCW Solutions, the information-technology services and business process outsourcing arm of the PCCW group.

The HOP! terminals were designed as a “last-mile” logistics support for e-commerce merchants, allowing consumers to pick up merchandise ordered online from the secure lockers.

As logistics teller machines, consumers can select the most convenient pick-up location for online orders and choose the payment-on-delivery mode.

When the parcel is delivered, a customer will be notified with a one-time, six-digit code set as a message on their mobile phone and e-mail address. The customer can go to the selected logistics teller machine to make payment, using bank transfer or credit card, and then open the locker by entering the code on the ATM screen.

“We are confident that this joint initiative will help banks achieve significant operational cost savings and bring unique online-to-offline transaction experience to their customers,” LTF Asia chief executive Wilson Fong said.

Bill Lee, chief operating officer at LTF Asia, said the HOP! machines are now available in 33 residential and commercial locations, including properties managed by Hong Kong-listed Link REIT and Savills Guardian.

“We expect to be in 100 locations by the end of this year, about 50 per cent of which will be in the New Territories,” Lee said. He added that Taiwan would be the next city where logistics teller machines would be deployed.

According to PCCW Solutions, each HOP! machine measures 2.4 metres high, 3.5m wide and 70 centimetres deep, and equipped with three closed-circuit television cameras. Each platform has 54 lockers, configured into 12 small, 36 medium-sized and six large compartments.

Au said each HOP! platform was configured to accommodate an ATM, as well as banks’ print advertisements on the machine surface and videos on the screens installed on the lockers.

“Banks can also negotiate revenue-sharing with LTF Asia for every parcel delivery transaction,” Au said.

E-commerce services which provide HOP! as a delivery option to their online customers include Baby Kingdom, Shopline, StrawberryNet and Ensogo.