BY EMEKA EJERE

In an age when trying to decongest the banking hall is the order of the day, the automated teller machine (ATM) is one of the banking technologies most bank customers have come to embrace, especially for the purpose of cash withdrawal.

That is why the efficiency of these machines is fast becoming one of the indicators of the qualities of a bank’s services to many banks’ customers. Banks recognizing this fact also try their best to ensure their ATMs give their customers good banking experience. But how good is the best of these banks in the area of ATM?

The Across-The-Counter team of BusinessHallmark still in Port Harcourt for the second week, focused on qualities of ATM services rendered by commercial banks in Woji part of, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and came up with findings that place Guarantee Trust Bank Plc. (GTBank) and Access Bank Plc at the top.

GTBank

The bank has three ATM machines located on the sidewall of the building, with three of them dispensing cash as at the time of our visit.

Although the ATMs are partly exposed in such a way that their users may be at the mercy of periodic change in weather depending on the time of the day, their unprecedented speed in cash dispensary covers for whatever challenge the location may pose.

The machines were fast enough to serve about 15 customers in a space of 10 minutes without any of them needing the intervention of the security personnel who were not on hand as if they knew there was no need for them to hang around.

Access Bank

Access Bank has six ATMs in display but only two were dispensing cash when we visited. That should have led to a low rating, one may think. But what then earned the bank our high rating?

Business is all about the convenience and comfort of the customer which translate to satisfaction. A fully air-conditioned, glassy and specious ATM gallery did the magic. The gallery is big enough to contain up to 40 customers at a time even though it can hardly fill to capacity.

With the two functional machines dispensing at satisfactory rates, customers by their countenance were ready to wait on queues for their turn without complaint.

A decent looking security man was there ready to attend to any question bothering on the use of the machines.

“If you have an Access Bank card, you can please go inside the banking hall and use the POS”, another security man announced intermittently to the excitement of his target audience.

UBA

The ATM gallery is located outside the bank premises with no security personnel monitoring. It has three ATMs with two dispensing cash at the time of our visit. Customers who are too scared of robbery may not feel safe to use the machines for any transaction.

The gallery though with air-conditioner is obviously begging for a facelift on account of dilapidation.

Fidelity Bank

The bank has three ATMs placed on the front wall of the building with two dispensing cash at not-quite-satisfactory speed. Obviously expecting an invitation to resolve an issue with the machines, a security man was there looking ready for that.

There was no serious customer traffic to the ATMs, signalling a possible lack of confidence in the machines among residents of the area.

First Bank

There are three ATMs, with two dispensing at the time of our visit. The three machines are partly exposed to the weather. The slow flow of customer traffic to the ATMs suggests that the bank may not be among the favourites in the area in terms of ATM.

Only 5 customers came there within our 10 minutes of stay.

Ecobank

Ecobank perhaps has the worst ATM situation in Woji. It has three machines with only one said to be dispensing. The ATMs are exposed to the weather. Only three customers were seen around the machines with only one customer successfully making her withdrawal within the 10 minutes our team spent there.

The second person, a young man in his twenties, who tried to use the machine as we were leaving later met us at the next bank (Zenith Bank) and reported that his transaction at Ecobank was not successful.

No wonder the ATM corner of the bank was scanty. Residents of the area may have marked it as inefficient.

Zenith Bank

The bank has a small ATM galley of two machines with only one dispensing at the time of our visit. The gallery, though not exposed to the weather is hot as there is no air-conditioner. Little wonder it was scanty with only two customers, both of whom were successful in their transactions.

It may not be a go-to place for those who like comfort. No security personnel were seen around.

Unity Bank

There are two very old machines but both were, surprisingly, dispensing cash. In fact, a first-time visitor will require the security personnel to answer on the affirmative to be convinced that the machines are still alive.

Besides, it is exposed to the weather. Little wonder the place was empty with not even a customer when we arrived. However, a customer walked in as we were about to depart.