September 30, 2009

ATM ISOs look to kiosks for deployment, transactional growth

ATM ISOs and DVD Vending Kiosks. Global Axcess interviews with ATM Marketplace/Tracy Kitten and explains the benefits to ISOs. Notes that kiosk market has more nuances than most ATM deployers appreciate.

Tracy Kitten
• 30 Sep 2009

DVD kiosks may not be the magic pill that saves ISOs from declining per-ATM transaction volumes and an industry bend toward surcharge-free ATM offers. But they do provide an alternative. At least that’s the way George McQuain, the chief executive of Florida-based Global Axcess Corp., sees it.

GAXC earlier this year announced plans to launch the InstaFlix DVD-rental kiosk line — a line that aims to go head-to-head with the redbox and Blockbuster Express brands, operated by Coinstar Inc. and NCR Corp., respectively.

Twenty InstaFlix kiosks have been deployed since July under GAXC subsidiary Nationwide Ntertainment Services Inc. Four more installations are expected to wrap within the next two weeks.

ATMs and DVDs seem like an odd self-service marriage. Most ATM deployers looking to kiosks are more interested in advanced financial services kiosks, a business that falls in line with what they already know.

But McQuain argues that getting into the self-service kiosk business has more nuances than most ATM deployers appreciate. Besides, self-service DVD rentals have been tried and proven. They work. Self-service financial services, such as check cashing and bill-payment, however, are still hit or miss in the market.

“The business model for DVD rental is very similar to today’s ATM-placement model, McQuain said. “You’ve got the cost of the machine and the cost of getting that machine installed. You’ve got the cost of the inventory, which corresponds to cost of cash. And then you have maintenance and the cost to conduct the transaction.”

The DVD-rental model may resemble the ATM model, but it’s not a mirrored layout. For McQuain, DVDs are just a way to get a foot in the kiosk door.

“We really see ourselves becoming a self-service company, not just an ATM or DVD-rental deployer,” McQuain said.

GAXC is working with a consultant to determine what additional or new types of self-service applications make sense, but McQuain was reluctant to divulge much more.

But breaking into any new line of business, he says, requires a different mindset. For instance, just because an ATM pulls in 600 transactions per month at a neighborhood Circle K does not mean a DVD-rental kiosk or an advanced-function check-cashing and bill-payment kiosk will find the same success.

“A good ATM location might not necessarily be a good DVD-kiosk location,” McQuain said.
Market variations can make or break a kiosk deployment, since the transactions being offered are more focused and cater to a specific user. Deploying ATMs, on the other hand, is relatively easy, since everyone uses cash, McQuain said.

But market trends and consumer preferences also come into play with entertainment products, which means some legwork on the front end, McQuain says.

“In the DVD kiosk, each of the terminals we’re using has a capacity for 600 distinct films; so we have to look at the market and figure out what people in that market will rent,” he said. “What is the correct mix between new releases and older movies?”

The inventory request becomes more daunting than simply loading ATM cassettes with tens and twenties. And the profit margins won't be the same, at least not in DVD deployments.

“You’re not going to profit on a DVD transaction like you do on a cash transaction,” McQuain said. “With DVD rental, you pay the interchange, rather than getting a percentage of it. So, in order to make money, you do need a much higher transaction level than non-bank ATM deployers are used to seeing on ATMs.”

Getting the hardware poses another challenge, since most DVD-kiosk manufacturers are based outside the United States. GAXC, for instance, is working with Italy-based Video Systems Group SRL.

So not only do the machines cost more, but it also can take a long time to get them. A DVD or multifunctional kiosk could cost between $20,000 and $30,000, while an entry-level cash dispenser’s price point ranges from $1,500 to $3,000.

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Posted by staff at September 30, 2009 02:18 PM