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Italy a Test Ground for Branch of the Future: News from Wincor World

The branch of the future will have "no cash," an executive from one of Italy's top 10 banks told attendees at the Wincor World user conference in Paderborn, Germany, this week. Banca Popolare di Milano, where Claudio Mereu is a general manager, is among the first banks using a new type of ATM, which Wincor Nixdorf claims to be the first to take loose, mixed bundles of cash and checks and automatically sort and credit them.

The "mixed bundle ATMs" were internationally launched late last year after being tested in the Italian market -- one deemed most in need of modernization, Wincor Nixdorf says. Italy tested the ProCash 3100 ATMs, now used by all of its top five banks.

Mereu said the new ATMs are now used by up to 30 percent of Banca Popolare's 1.3 million customers. "The advantages are that the manager does not have to keep valuables or do administration and can dedicate his time exclusively to consultancy and business development," he said in a presentation.

The ease of lodgements for businesses depositing the nightly take gives these ATMs an advantage over others, Alessandro Passoni, a Milan-based account manager with Wincor Nixdorf, told BS&T. However, he added, "These machines are expensive -- 30,000 to 40,000 -- so they need to work a lot. This means an area where there are a lot of small businesses is best."

The biggest learning experience in Banca Popolare's trial of the new ATMs was where to place them, he suggested. The bank started with one ProCash 3100 machine a year ago, adding four more over the next three months.

Now, 40 of Banca Popolare's 800 branches use the new ATMs, Mereu said. The bank is a significant regional player in central and northern Italy, with almost 1.2 million retail customers and nearly 150,000 small business customers, plus some larger corporations, he said.

The ProCash 3100 comes with an optional add-on recycler (something that obviates the need for cash deliveries), while the later ProCash 4000 series has this refill capability built-in. However, Passoni said, Wincor Nixdorf went with the simpler version of the machine in Italy for the same reason Italy was chosen out of all possible test countries to test the mixed-bundle ATMs: "Italian banks are old-fashioned. We wanted to get them to try a new style of banking, to migrate low-level operations from man to machine."

The sale of several thousand ATMs in Italy over the past few years has advanced Italy to Wincor Nixdorf's third most lucrative market in Europe, he added.

For more coverage and industry analysis from Wincor World, see "Others Take Bank Turf, But Banks Aren't Finding New Markets."

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