Look who’s talking

The cash machine that talks.

Please click on the image to open the gallery

July 22, 2013, Marc Lustenberger (text) and Nicholas Blechman (illustration)

"Using the ATM was difficult at first. I was often left standing there with no money," recalls Ankica Kössig. She lost her sight from one day to the next. The 50-year-old clerk had to relearn how to live her life. How do you find your way around with a cane? How can your fingers navigate a keypad? And how do blind people withdraw cash? While Ankica Kössig can read text with the help of a magnifying glass, not every monitor displays large enough fonts.

Without Bancomats, life would grind to a halt. So it's all the more important that their services are available to everyone. In Switzerland, there are 325,000 people with a vision impairment, 10,000 of whom are completely blind. Many senior citizens are affected. The trend is rising.

Over 500 upgraded ATMs
Until now, using an ATM was difficult if not impossible for the visually impaired. UBS recognized this fact. "I'm delighted that these talking machines will make my life easier," says Ankica Kössig. This summer, UBS will roll out over 500 speech-enabled ATMs to assist visually impaired customers with their cash transactions. Ankica Kössig helped develop the new system. "It was very important to us to test the individual functions with someone affected," explains Corinne Kaiser, who was part of the project at UBS.

"Welcome to UBS. To withdraw cash press button 1 …" is what you hear when you plug in your headphones. The screen can be darkened on request so that no one can see what is happening. Withdraw or deposit cash, check your account balance, change your PIN: the ATM guides you step by step - and that in four languages! Customers enter their commands via the tactile keypad, feeling the numbers with their fingers.

Outwardly, the new Bancomat barely looks any different. A pictogram of a headset is all that indicates the special functions. "These machines are scarcely more expensive to buy, but they offer considerable added value," explains Roland Hallauer, Head of Counter Services and ATMs at UBS. The bank is revamping its 300 branches, with the focus firmly on the customer. This includes providing optimal services for people with disabilities. The talking Bancomat is visible and audible proof of this strategy.

Look what a Bancomat can do

  • Each year around 60 million notes are paid in and 190 million notes paid out at UBS ATMs.
  • The 100 franc note is withdrawn most often at UBS ATMs - among young people, the 20 franc note is the most popular.
  • The average amount withdrawn at UBS Bancomats is 340 francs. 2,300 francs are paid in on average.
  • UBS offers around 900 cash machines in Switzerland. 40 percent have a deposit function.
  • On around 15,000 occasions last year, customers forgot to take their money from a UBS ATM. The notes are drawn back into the machine and the amount credited to the account.