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Wincor trade fair in Germany shows technology trends in banking, retail

More banking operators and retailers worldwide, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, have been adopting high technology to reduce costs in the long run and increase security, while also providing customers a better experience, the "Wincor World 2014" trade fair held last week in Germany reflected.

At Wincor World, a leading information-technology trade show for banking and retail, more than 7,000 visitors from 90 countries checked out the latest solutions and service offerings from German hardware and software provider Wincor Nixdorf and 46 partner exhibitors through more than 500 displays and 50 specialist presentations.

Banking

In the banking category, exhibitors focused on self-service and automatic machines aimed at reducing the involvement of tellers or other employees, while increasing cost efficiency as well as security for customers.

"We see this trend coming very strongly into the Asia-Pacific region, shifting from bank tellers to self-service, machinery that can integrate work for a variety of objectives. Banks want to [provide] a better customer experience, and thus they will not hesitate to adopt high technology to serve their clients," said Jens Bohlen, executive vice president of Wincor Nixdorf in its banking division.

Wincor showed many modern machines for banking at the annual event. For instance, it had a cash-recycling machine that could combine deposits and withdrawals so it does not need to be restocked with cash as often as a conventional ATM.

An automated teller safe was also shown, with which customers would manage their own accounts, while tellers do not need to touch the money.

There was an automated teller machine (ATM) with fingerprint, video and visual services onscreen, along with headphones and Braille capability to serve the disabled.

Each Wincor machine is also designed and manufactured to function in various weather conditions and extreme temperatures.

The company also showed how banks could enhance customer experience with new service concepts. The range of self-service options can be expanded greatly when staff use video or tablet computers to help clients with certain transactions.

Bohlen said the company had seen a strong trend of banks in the Asia-Pacific region adopting more service technology. Wincor has seen huge growth in China, Thailand and Indonesia as bank operators invest more in new technology.

According to the firm, the Asia-Pacific and Africa markets contributed 18 per cent of net sales for the group, which was about 2.46 billion euros (Bt110 billion) in its 2012-13 fiscal year.

Wincor and banks have also focused on customer security with such state-of-the-art technology as anti-skimming machines. and camera or CCTV that could cut film from sunglasses or helmet.

Retail

At the retail exhibition hall, Wincor World displayed "electronic shelves" that show price tags, self-check-out machines, mobile payment systems, and a "reverse vending solution" for customers to return used bottles for a refund.

Thomas Fell, senior vice president of Wincor Nixdorf's retail division, said customers today were more demanding. More mobile devices would be adopted at retail and wholesale outlets to make transactions more simple and convenient for customers. IT can play more roles for many retailers, especially in Asia.

He said Wincor's sales were growing faster in emerging markets than in other countries. The company will continue to develop software and hardware to serve retail customers, as well as make some acquisitions to grow its retail sector by 3-5 per cent this year.

Asked whether slower consumption in some countries would reduce investment by retailers, Fell said he did not expect investment in technology to drop as retailers would need to increase cost efficiency amid the rising cost of labour and higher competition.

Thai market

Chukiat Jearjesdakul, managing director of Wincor Nixdorf (Thailand) Co, said the company's sales in Thailand were projected to grow by a strong 10 per cent this fiscal year, as many banks and retailers have been alerted to the need to adopt new technology to increase their service efficiency. IT solutions could save costs, save labour, and increase accuracy and security for customers.

"The trend towards self-service will also encourage banks and retailers to adopt many of the company's products," Chukiat said.

Customers' point of view

Many Thai banks and modern retailers have shown interest in Wincor Nixdorf technologies such as electronic shelves, reverse vending machines, anti-skimming devices, and automated teller safes.

Nipath Kuasakul, executive vice president of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, said customers were trending towards self-reliance. Many banks are considering new technology that could serve the demands of customers, while at the same time reducing costs and risks from human error.

"Banks also want to upgrade their image with customers by adopting new technology. Although there are some costs for IT equipment, it should be worth it in the long run, as banks can save the cost of employees, have more security, and gain a better image from offering high-tech banking to their clients," Nipath said.

To serve farmers and other people in remote areas, the BAAC is also considering adopting more automatic machinery. Other banks could also consider this option instead of setting up new branches in remote areas to save costs, he said.

Tirasut Simasathien, first vice president of Krungthai Bank and manager of its electronic-channel support department, said IT solutions could increase efficiency and avoid human error and corruption while serving customers' various demands. KTB had planned to add another 500 ATMs to its nationwide network last year, but the plan will not be completed until this year.

According to Wincor (Thailand), the number of ATMs in Thailand will increase by 7 per cent a year, higher than the global average of 6 per cent annually.


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