ATM power problems – seek out-of-box solutions

Reported by: |Updated: April 20, 2016

I was recently at a seminar where there was a panel discussion on ATMs. One point stressed by the panelists was that more than anything, the biggest constraining factor for uptime of ATMs in the rural areas has nothing to do with technology but is simply the lack of power availability. There were discussions on using solar panels and windmills and the problems encountered with those technologies.

This set my thinking why there is such a narrow range of alternatives. In nature, energy is available in many forms including kinetic, potential, magnetic, electro-magnetic, chemical, nuclear, etc. Then why do we not explore a broader spectrum of alternatives for energy to run ATMs?

This set me thinking outside the box….and I could visualize one form of power that is plentiful in rural areas – animal and human muscles. A farmer owning one or more cattle would happily rent it out to a bank every day to charge the ATM UPS batteries….and surely it wouldn’t cost a bomb. Another out-of-box idea is for a bank to put up a hand pump next to the ATM for charging the batteries. Ten strokes of the hand pump should generate enough electricity to do a normal ATM transaction. Alternatively, a bank could build a hand pump for drawing underground water and part of the energy for pumping up the water can be used to charge the ATM UPS batteries.

The bottomline is that to find a workable solution, one should look outside the (technology) box.

I encourage all bankers and technologists to look for simple and practical out-of-box solutions….it is not advisable to limit the scope of innovation to hitech solutions only.