Firm Reaching Out To Credit Unions With Solution For Managing ATM Fleet

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For many credit unions, automated teller machines are a necessary evil. Few CUs have the internal resources to design the member-facing screens, monitor the machines for trouble and fix problems, which forces them to rely on third-party vendors.

Miami, Fla.-based Level Four Americas says its ATM test and development software will help CUs take control of this delivery channel. The company was founded in September, and is a sister company to Level Four Software, which has serviced financial institutions in Europe and the Middle East since 1995. The two Level Four companies demonstrated their software at the recent Bank Administration Institute Retail Delivery Show here.

Jorge Fernandez, president of Level Four Americas, said the new company will target financial institutions of all types in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. He said it is interested in working with credit unions because of what the movement stands for.

"Credit unions are always trying to provide more services to their members. We facilitate the ATM delivery mechanism and make it easier and faster," he said. "Credit unions are service organizations, while a bank says, 'I'll get there when I get there.' Credit unions always are one or two steps ahead of the banks as far as service."

"Credit unions always complain they are the stepchild of the networks. Our products help them become more independent," he added.

According to Fernandez, operating an ATM network can be divided into two major areas: development and testing. In the former, he said Level Four software allows CUs to take control of the look of the screens, which allows for branding opportunities, and does so without technical knowledge. Regarding the latter, he said the software can simulate any of hundreds of failures without a technician visiting the machine. For example, it can simulate a cash dispenser problem without resorting to such techniques as stapling bills together.

Fernandez said he is not suggesting all testing will be done remotely, but he believes 80% to 85% of issues can be dealt with from a desktop.

"The advantage is, someone can get to the root of the problem much more quickly and fix it," he said. "The software is very visual, so it can be used without code programming. We take everything in house: designing new applications and screens, development, and testing. In the long term, it will save credit unions time and money, and they will have continuous testing of their network."

Level Four works with all ATM vendors, and it supports the new XFS open standard, he said. Since most financial institutions already have an existing system, the company needs only the vendor's configuration files to take ATM network operation in house.

Iain McLeod, a senior consultant to Level Four Americas, said the average financial institution requires two days for installation and three days for training.

"Our software turns lines of code into visual schematics," he said. "We have easy-to-follow screen simulations and drag and drop menus."

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