Posts

Doing Business with International ATMs

Doing Business with International ATMs

Doing business at a local ATM machine is not at all that uncommon, but what about trying to transact business with an ATM that’s located outside of your native country? Is it as easy to do, as it would be at home? Are the fees reasonable or astronomical? What about customer service, or support systems?

All of these are certainly legitimate concerns for any person who is trying to use an ATM machine out of the country. And, if you’re an ATM machine owner, it’s certainly a topic that you want to address with your customers so that you can help them to avoid any issues. Working with the proper channels that are necessary in order to have your ATM location properly mapped can mean the difference in you either losing, or gaining, business.

Customer Protection

Dealing with financial institutions abroad can be quite interesting, especially given that each banking institution operates under its own set of guidelines. There are of course some areas where financial institutions operate under the same principles (legal, etc.), but there is flexibility on other areas where things can be changed or adjusted to fit the bank’s mission or objective. To protect the customer, there are a few things that they need to be aware of when doing business with international ATMs. Some include:

– Locally-Owned

Try to only deal with ATMs that are owned and/or operated by the financial institution that owns them. This means, avoiding unknown, unheard of or ATMs that are ill-placed in different areas. If the customer experiences any problems with such machines, it would be a horrendous task to try and lay claim to any losses while in a foreign country.

– Conversion Fees

Take note of any “conversion fees” that are a part of the ATM transaction. These fees are also known as international withdrawal fees, and are assessed whenever a customer withdraws money in another country from an ATM machine. Generally, these conversion fees are a matter of doing business, but it’s important to stay aware o the fees, which should run no more than between 1% to 3% per purchase, or per instance (debit card purchases inclusive).

– Balance Inquiry

A charge for a simple “balance inquiry” at an ATM machine can result in a nominal fee being tacked on to your account. As a one-off transaction, this may not be especially important, but depending on the institution’s policies and fees, this amount can certainly add up quickly. It’s probably going to be best (and more economical) to find an alternate method to check your bank account balance to get this information. One such suggestion would be to do an online inquiry, which would likely not result in a charge from your local banking institution.

Other Financial Services

Customers can also turn directly to the financial institution that issued the card if they want to get more financial services, in addition to the ATM services. This is especially important if the traveler will be going abroad and may need other services like currency exchange information, information about withdrawal limits or any other cash restrictions or any limits on cash advances for the local currency. Dealing directly with the issuing institution will help answer any questions or vague understanding that the customer may have about cash, ATM and traveling. It’s always best to have a thorough understanding of any money issues that may exist in other locales before arriving there.

In order for customers to locate ATM’s in a specific country or within a particular region, they can reference an ATM locator to find out if there is one in their area. Usually, owners send ATM location information periodically to MasterCard and Visa card corporations. This location information is logged and made available on the card-issuer’s site(s) so that customers can quickly locate an ATM location. Since this information is updated frequently, it does in fact contain the most current and accurate ATM location information that would be available to customers worldwide.

ATM Fee Disclosure Reform

In a world of conveniences that make daily necessities much better, access to ATM machines are probably at the top of many lists. ATM machines are certainly a welcomed convenience for customers, especially when they’re pressed to get cash in a hurry and they’re looking for the nearest ATM machine(s). As ATM owners, providing such a welcomed service in prime locations can also be quite lucrative and provide a steady flow of customer traffic. It’s a win-win situation for both the customer and the ATM machine owner, that is, until there are miscommunications or underhanded things done that adversely affect ATM owners. While they are a great idea and convenience to have, what’s not so great is when situations arise where customers sue machine owners because of this wonderful convenience.

Are There Fees?

Are There FeesCustomers generally understand that when they use an ATM machine at a bank or a location other than their main banking facility, they can expect to pay a small to moderate user fee for the service. The fee amount can vary from one facility to the other, but there will invariably be a fee incurred by the user. There is rarely, if ever, no machine user fee, so the notion of “no fee” is really not expected.

Surprise Lawsuits?

Another thing that’s not expected is the litany of lawsuits that ATM owners have had to deal with for supposedly not disclosing their ATM machine fees to customers. Several lawsuits ranging in varying dollar amounts have stated that the usage fees were not displayed in plain sight and they were not knowledgeable of the fees before they made a transaction. Therefore, because the defendant (the ATM owners) are responsible for ensuring that the fees notifications are prominently displayed on the unit, the monetary lawsuits were awarded in favor of the plaintiffs. So why were the notices not in plain sight?

The New ATM Bill

This is where things get a little controversial. Notices can be placed with a sticker on the unit, notifying the customer of the fees. The problem is that the stickers were constantly being removed (weather conditions, theft, etc.) in some cases, making it appear that the owner wasn’t providing optimal customer service. This problem needed a solution. There had to be a better, more ideal way to apprise the customer of the fees. That answer was in the amendment of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, more specifically H.R. 4367. This amendment works to protect ATM owners and also to discourage those frivolous lawsuits that were beginning to drastically increase.

The newly reformed ATM Fee Disclosure bill now protects ATM owners as it eliminates the requirements that were originally set forth in the amendment that required ATM owners to have and display a physical sticker which notified customers of the ATM service fees.

ATM Changes for Owners

ATM Changes for OwnersWith the new bill in place, all that ATM owners would be required to do is to continue to apprise customers of the service usage fees, but they can now display that information digitally on the screen. Customers have the option to accept or deny any charges associated with the ATM machine when using it to access cash withdrawals. This new system also eliminates faulty problems that were occurring with the notification stickers and them “getting lost” so frequently. So whether the missing stickers were due to acts of nature or from malicious intent, ATM owners no longer have to worry about lawsuits resulting from not having fee information displayed on the machines.

ATM owners are glad and relieved to know this good news. The problem with the lawsuits was affecting the owners in a very negative way having to constantly defend their compliance with the notifications. With digital notices, customers can and are required to read and accept the full disclosure sentence regarding the fees, and they must do this before the ATM machine continues to transact their request. This means no more misunderstandings, miscommunications and best of all, no more lawsuits.

Things to Do Before Starting an ATM Business

Three Major Things to Do Before Starting an ATM BusinessWithout a doubt, the ATM business is a very easy and quite lucrative one to get into. Everyone from the small business owner to the large corporation understands the immense benefits that abound in owning and managing an ATM business. ATM business owners can position their machines at most any well-trafficked location and see a return on their investment in a short matter of time. The key to success is choosing the right company to go with in setting up an ATM business, and knowing how to properly organize and manage it for optimal, profitable results.

The ATM business is one that can easily be a long-term, high-profit business that grows each year, but it’s important to ensure that the business is properly set up from the beginning. Everything from ATM software, security, location and management needs to be considered seriously before any real profits are seen. This is also important so as to keep those profits coming in while keeping business expenses as low as possible.

Here are a few tips to review and make sure are they’re on your checklist as you start the ATM ownership process:

1. Determine Ideal Setup

How do you want to manage the ATM business? Several options include owning and managing the machine, or, owning it and having someone else manage it by loading it with cash as necessary. Perhaps there will be another owner, and you simply manage the machine. Either of the options depends solely on your personal preferences and what works best for your end goals. Be aware however that you will need to ensure that the proper legal paperwork is in place to protect liabilities, especially since this area of business involves handling large amounts of cash.

2. ATM Machines, New or Used?

This is another consideration that’s best determined by your budget or preferences with the style and functionality of the ATM machine. Buying a used machine vs. a new one will definitely save you a significant amount of money on cost, but it’s also important to be sure that the used version will have all of the features and capabilities that it needs in order to draw in favorable traffic. Also, newer, more current models are going to have current software and run more efficiently, but if you’re considering planting multiple ATM machines in different locales, your best option may be to invest in used models until you break even with your profits.

3. Find ATM Dealers

In addition to thinking of either new or used machines, you also have to consider from whom you purchase your machine. It’s imperative to use only reputable dealers and ATM machine processing facilities with whom to do business. Make sure that the company has a stellar client support system for questions and setup. Also ensure that there are warranties included with your equipment so as to avoid any issues later on. Unless you know of a third party either on a personal level or you’re very familiar with the brand and model of an ATM machine, it is not a good idea to buy your machine from a private party or individuals who list an ATM machine for sale.

Finally, as it is with customer service in any business, ensure that the ATM processing company that you select has a generous support system for their clients. Scope out a processing company that offers 24 hour, 7 days a week support, and also has multiple contact numbers to reach them, preferably toll free numbers. This is important for customers because ATM owners will have all different hours, night and day, where they will be working and managing their machines. They need access to customer support just in case they run into any issues, and at any time of the day or night. Take note of whether or not live callers answer the phone lines, or if there is an automated message. If you get an automated message, test the call by leaving a voice mail message asking for more information. Notice the length of time that it takes to have your call returned, and this is a good indicator of how you’ll be treated once you become a customer.