South Asia’s first ‘cash deposit ATM network’ launched

Friday, 12 October 2012 03:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lankan consumers will enter the era of direct cash payments through ATMs next Monday, when five cash deposit-taking ATMs will start operating in Colombo for the first time.

“I am pleased to say that we are setting a new record in the SAARC region, with a commercial-scale deposit-taking ATM network going live in Colombo for the first time with just five machines. What is interesting is that these ATMs are not linked to any banks either, unlike the traditional ATMs,” said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.

Bathiudeen was speaking in the aftermath of his soft-launching the ‘PayTM’ cash payment network at the World Trade Centre, Colombo, run by One&Only System Pvt Ltd, the $ 4 m BoI firm.

According to One&Only Managing Director Abdul Rahuman, the owning firm of the ‘PayTM’ network, the initiative is a joint venture with Japan Cash Machines Co Ltd. (JCM), the well-known maker of money-handling machines, equipment, and electronic cash registers for the global financial industry with $ 217 m revenue and also listed on the Tokyo and Osaka exchanges.

“Our initial investment in this venture is US$ 500,000 in Phase I. From the morning of Monday, 15 October, Lankan consumers can directly pay Sri Lankan currency notes of Rs. 10 to Rs. 5,000 denominations to this machine to settle their Dialog, SLT-Mobitel, Etisalat, Hutch and Airtel payments, as a start. The consumers need not have an account with us to make the payment. Before the end of this month, we are planning to introduce Water Board and Electricity Board payments, once we complete the necessary procedures with them. By end of 2013, subject to amendments to the Motor Traffic Act and Government approval, we will be ready to accept Police traffic fines and charges and issue receipts which have legal validity. We have not integrated insurance instalment deposits yet, but based on insurance company applications, we are ready to extend our services to them in future as well,” revealed Rahuman.

Rahuman’s demonstrations showed the ‘PayTM’ machines, in their two models, ‘Smart Fiony’ and ‘Elegant Fiony,’ randomly accepting various Sri Lankan currency notes with denominations up to Rs. 5,000, updating the mobile user accounts and issuing receipts within five to 10 seconds for two mobile phone numbers of two different mobile networks.

“The system works in any language of choice in Sinhala, Tamil or English. The connections to our secure transaction server is wireless, through TCP/IP web protocol. The machines are equipped to authenticate the user identity with a pin number, which is already active, and alternatively, the fingerprint scanner, which we have not activated yet. Once we activate the fingerprint scanner, local banks can join us to allow their depositors to withdraw from their savings accounts through our network. When that happens, these ATMs will become dual performers – both accept and dispense cash. We are in discussions with Dialog Axiata to enlist Dialog eZCash online and, if successful, such transactions too will become a reality with us in the next six months. We already support eZCash partially, since top-ups are allowed through our network,” Rahuman said.

Mobile money transaction platforms such as Dialog eZCash, Sri Lanka’s first such with Central Bank permission, allows users to conduct a wide variety of mobile money businesses using just a mobile phone but without a bank account. Dialog officials indicated to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce that approximately 800,000 Dialog users have already registered for this facility.

Commenting on the ‘PayTM’ revenue plan, Rahuman revealed: “We charge a commission – not from our ATM users, but the service partners. For example, from mobile phone networks, we charge on average about 5.5% commission per transaction. ‘PayTM’ machines are also mounted with 20 inch wide electronic multimedia display for advertisements mounted on top of the transaction screens, which in future will be expanded to 32 and 50 inches. Initially, we will advertise our mobile network partners free of charge.”

‘PayTM’ machines are also equipped to accept credit card transactions, but the company needs payment gateway authorisation from the credit card issuer to make this facility possible, and therefore it has not been not activated yet.