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RBO notifies commercial banks to deploy ‘Talking ATMs’

15 June- 2015, Saurabh Kumar: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 21 May notified all scheduled commercial banks to deploy only “talking ATMs” starting 1 July and also provide a plan to convert all the existing ATMs into talking ATMs with Braille keypads. A directive issued in April 2009 had asked banks to make at least one-third of the ATMs voice-enabled. But it was revised to make “all” ATMs voice-enabled, maybe due to lack of traction. Talking ATMs is a part of the set of directives issued by the central bank to make ATMs friendly for differently-abled users. Other directives include building ramps for wheelchair users, lower-height ATMs, and providing magnifying glasses for those with poor vision. Let’s understand how talking ATMs work.

RBO notifies commercial banks to deploy ‘Talking ATMs’

RBO notifies commercial banks to deploy 'Talking ATMs'
Sam Panthaky/AFP


Machine and card

The cards to be used at these ATMs are the same as those issued by banks currently. The machines, however, are different. Talking ATMs are designed according to “access to all” standards, which means that the keypads of the ATM should be at a height that’s easily accessible by someone who is wheelchair-bound, there should be ramps, provision for a headphone, voice guidance technology should be enabled and available in multiple languages, and there should be Braille stickers for visually challenged users.

According to NCR Corp., a manufacturer of ATMs, banks can either deploy new talking ATMs or upgrade existing machines by changing the software and upgrading the hardware.

How does it work?

Typically, talking ATMs work on “text to speech” format, which means the text on the screen can be heard. A visually impaired user needs to attach the headphone to the machine. The machine guides the user in understanding how the machine works. It will also guide the user in keying in the required data using the numeric keypad. A key feature of these machines is that the user can blank out the screen of the ATM to prevent shoulder surfing. Features and methods of use may vary across manufacturers.

The road ahead

Banks need to take necessary steps to implement the directive and apprise the customer service committee of the bank to ensure and report compliance. However, RBI has allowed banks to not have ramps at branches where it’s not possible.

Also, for now, it’s been left to the banks to create awareness about the talking ATMs and inform customers about the available service.

The directive from the apex bank is important and in the larger interest of the society. Implementation, within the given time frame, is equally important.

(Input source: Livemint)

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