Vortex Engineering bets big on mini-ATMs

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Chennai: India’s own automatic teller machine (ATM) maker Vortex Engineering Pvt Ltd is betting big on its mini-ATMs as banks and others are expected to set up the machines in rural areas in the coming days, said a top company official.

He said the company is focussing on the African, Middle East and neighbouring markets for its regular and through the wall ATMs and planning to raise $3-$5 million for business and product development.

“In the next one year around 10-15 per cent of the overall ATM demand in India will be for small machines that can be mounted on a wall or on a mobile van,” Sathyan Gopalan, Chief Executive Officer, told IANS.

“In three/four months time around 7/8 government owned banks are expected to come out with tenders for small ATMs. We also expect many white label ATM operators (non-bank private ATM operators) to opt for smaller machines,” he added.

Vortex has already won an order for 135 Ecotellers from United Bank of India (UBI) and is confident of winning another tender for around 400 machines.

Meanwhile the company is offering some of its mini-ATMs to a couple of banks for dispensing cash in rural areas, mounting the machines on a van.

Last year during rain in Chennai, UCO Bank took Vortex’s mini-ATM on a van to dispense cash in flood-hit areas.

He said Vortex is the first company in India to have developed a small ATM called Ecoteller. With only one more company having a small machine, Vortex does not expect much problem in bagging orders.

“Having one more player is better for us as Indian public sector banks are reluctant to source products from a single vendor. Further Vortex cannot be precluded from participating in tenders based on restrictive criteria like minimum turnover or installations,” Gopalan added.

It is such restrictive conditions that made Vortex unable to participate in tenders for bigger or conventional ATMs, officials said.

“Our machines consume just around 60w power which turn means the investments on battery back-up and solar panels are very low. Further the machine can run without any air conditioner. The software is based on Linux and hence needs no costly updates,” R. Narayanakumar, Chief Technology Officer, Vortex Engineering Pvt Ltd, told IANS.

Speaking about the Indian ATM industry Gopalan said the annual demand for new machines (new installations and replacement) ranges between 25,000-35,000 units.

“The replacement market is small now and is expected to grow in the coming years as the average life of an ATM is around seven years,” Gopalan said.

The IFC and couple of venture capital funded Vortex has bagged an order for 1,000 units of conventional ATMs from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and 85 units from ESAF Microfinance this year.

The company is also in the process of deploying 600 regular ATMs for UCO Bank.

Queried about the prospects for ATMs with the thrust being on digital payments Narayanakumar said ATMs could be used for payment of bills.

As regards to security of transactions at ATMs he said Vortex machines have anti-skimming devices.

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