British bank Standard Chartered was the first to roll out blind-friendly ATMs in 2012, but it was a far more limited roll out with only a handful of machines — and those have since been out of commission
After nearly two years of work, the country's national bank has managed a limited roll out of talking automated teller machines (ATMs) for the blind.
Last week, DBS announced it was voice enabling 86 of its 1,000-plus ATMs across the island.
This isn't the first time a bank has managed to push out talking ATMs here, but the last attempt was done on a far smaller scale. British bank Standard Chartered was the first to roll out blind-friendly ATMs in 2012, but it was a far more limited roll out with only a handful of machines — and those have since been out of commission, according to Dolores Scully-Bailey, a spokesperson with the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH).
Standard Chartered did not respond in time on why these machines were put out of commission.
DBS's talking ATMs were designed together with SAVH, which approached the bank back in 2014 to push for them. Before, the visually handicapped relied solely on phone banking or branch walk-ins to get their banking done.
Scully-Bailey told Mashable it took nearly two years for the talking ATMs to get off the ground: "[DBS] got back to us in the first quarter of last year. Through rigorous testing and trials we were able to finally come up with the end-product late last year."
Sim S. Lim, DBS Singapore country head, added: "The process behind this initiative, from user experience development, testing, piloting and then finally wide-scale implementation took 1,000 man hours."
Previously, DBS Bank's ATMs only had tactile keypads to aid the visually-impaired. The new ATMs, which are located mostly at ATMs for easy accessibility, will now offer audio guides and also Braille instructions.
To activate this function, users have to plug in his or her headphone into the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The screen will then go blank for security reasons, and the voice instruction will begin.
For now though, visually-impaired users won't have access to the standard range of features on the ATMs — the voice-activated menus only allow users to withdraw cash and check their account balance. Also, the voice instructions are currently only available in English — Singapore is multilingual, with four official languages.
Although both SAVH and DBS have spoken about plans to include more features and language options to these machines, nothing has been confirmed yet. To date, more than 95% of Singaporean residents have a DBS Bank account. Whether DBS will be enabling more talking ATMs in the near future will be determined by customer feedback, they said.
Talking ATMs are not a new banking concept. The world's first talking ATM reportedly rolled out in 1997 in Ottawa, Ontario after two blind customers Chris and Marie Stark filed a discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1991. The machine cost a reported $500,000 Canadian dollars to manufacture.
Since then, countries such as U.S., Australia, Phillipines and China have rolled out blind-friendly talking ATMs. In 2010, India's largest bank, the State Bank of India, enabled 7,000 out of its 18,500 ATMs across the country to be voice-enabled, receiving nationwide praise. India has more than 10 million people who are visually challenged.
Source : mashable.com