NCR introduces Android-based ATMs


Big smiles: NCR Corp’s director of solution management for the AMEA region Mathew D. Heap (left) and Harris showing off the Kalpana ATM in Kuala Lumpur. — TAN KIT HOONG/The Star

Big smiles: NCR Corp’s director of solution management for the AMEA region Mathew D. Heap (left) and Harris showing off the Kalpana ATM in Kuala Lumpur. — TAN KIT HOONG/The Star

NCR's new Kalpana automated teller machines feature an Android thin-client that connects to a cloud-based banking system.

Even though ATMs (automated teller machines) have been spewing out money into the eager hands of customers since the late 1960s, it hasn’t seen much revolution in terms of tech.

They are essentially based on PCs but ­haven’t progressed as fast – in fact, many of the machines still run a version of Microsoft Windows XP and only recently has Bank Negara introduced guidelines recommending that they should be upgraded to at least Windows 7.

However, it would require extensive manpower, time and testing to update thousands of ATMs at locations across the country.

NCR Corporation, one of the leaders in the ATM sector, says it has the problem licked with its latest platform called Kalpana.

Neil M. Harris, global marketing director of ATM solutions for NCR Corp says Kalpana (which means “imagination” in Sanskrit) is its biggest innovation since the machines were invented in 1967.

Unlike ATMs today which are PCs with banking software and antivirus, the Kalpana is a just simple terminal – also known as thin client – that connects to the Cloud where the actual banking system resides.

As the system is on the Cloud, new services can be deployed to all Kalpana machines with ease – Harris claims 27% to 40% savings in total cost of ownership over a 12-month period.

Kalpana is also designed to be inherently more secure as all software and updates are controlled by the server which constantly monitors the machines for changes and intrusions.

Kalpana itself runs on a lightweight “locked down” Android operating system with a self-service app and HTML 5 user interface.

While Kalpana looks like any modern ATM, it doesn’t have a physical keypad. Instead it has a virtual keypad which the company claims is more secure as the screen has a privacy filter with very narrow ­viewing angles so others can’t take a peek at it. Also, as it’s virtual, it doesn’t have to appear on the same spot everytime.

The new ATMs come with three built-in cameras to take a snapshot of the user, cash slot and card reader.

The images are uploaded to the server to not only help with intrusion detection but also customer disputes.

NCR also showed off an interesting feature that allows users to initiate cash withdrawals on their mobile even before getting to the ATM. They can use the banking app to input the amount they wish to withdraw and when they reach the ATM they just have to scan a QR code to make it dispense cash.

Danny Fong, managing director for NCR (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, says that the company is in talks with local financial institutions to adopt the new system.