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Kiosks are everywhere, and you can 'bank' on them.

Sandhya D'Mello

Next time you spot a kiosk remember it can do more than accepting bills, mobile top ups, utility bill payments and other common tasks. Do you know that you can open a bank account, renew your licences, remit money abroad, buy gifts here to be delivered abroad, buy pizza for your loved ones and more at these machines.

At the corporate level efforts are made to have kiosks as part of HR solutions, where you can apply for your holiday leave, request tickets and more. So why kiosks have gained so much importance?

"Kiosks are here to help ease the life of residents not only locally but globally too. We see the change at both individual, corporate and government levels," according to Ibrahim Darraz, managing director, KeyBS.

The UAE-based KeyBs, which is an integrated and automated solutions company, expects to record growth of 30 per cent in 2017. The company offers around 12 Indian brands in the UAE on its kiosks where you can buy services for your loved ones back home.

For instance, KeyKiosk enables gifting family and friends in India as shopping gift vouchers to be used in many retails shops like Bata, Lifestyle, Westside, Big Bazaar etc or to be used in electronics shops such as Croma. The UAE residents can also invite their friends and families to have lunch or dinner in different restaurants in India via these gift vouchers, in addition to the ability of gifting other types of gifts like online vouchers for booking a trip, hotel or show.

Many banks are now interested in setting up more kiosks in the UAE rather than opening full-fledged branches and adding to their costs.

"We are currently working on offering video conferencing on kiosks as banks want to have transparent and secure transactions that enhance customer experience," adds Darraz.

NCR, the US-headquartered entity, opines that some of the key drivers for market growth include increased customer interest in self-service, rising demand for security-related applications and developments in the retail and entertainment industries.

"NCR's Interactive Teller offers 95 per cent of the branch services that the customer can use anytime to transact with the bank without being limited to visiting the branch during its limited normal opening hours," said Wael El Aawar, vice-president for Financial Services, Middle East and Africa Region for NCR Global Sales.

El Aawar said a variety of firms coming from different industries are using kiosks to automate many of the routine transactions that typically take place over the counter. This improves efficiency as such systems are not prone to human errors because intervention from the servicing firm is eliminated that leads to reduced operating costs.

At the moment, he said, the travel industry in the UAE such as airports and airlines are heavy adopters of kiosks for informational purposes such as aiding travellers to find their way in an airport as well as for automating the check-in process.

"Also, telecommunication companies and certain governmental institutions have deployed kiosks in recent years to improve certain services such as paying utility bills [electricity, telephone and water], applying for service, etc. Even gas stations are now introducing the concept of self-service by connecting their gas pumps to kiosks. Similarly, the UAE police have introduced kiosks for facilitating the payment of fines, renewing car registrations, etc."

"On the hospitality front, a number of restaurants are automating the order-taking process by either introducing self-service kiosks for consumers to place their orders or specially designed kiosks that essentially are tables with built-in displays that allow the customer to place their orders and even watch it being prepared in the kitchen," adds El Aawar.

According to Stratistics MRC, the global interactive kiosk market accounted for $46.07 billion in 2015 and is poised to reach $88.34 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 9.7 per cent during the forecast period 2015 to 2022.

MBME, a pioneer in the UAE kiosk industry for 10 years, has over 70 plus payment services and over 1,000 locations, MBME is the largest payment and government services platform in the UAE.

"Kiosks offer convenience and benefits that help businesses grow, our self-service solutions are built for a range of verticals. Companies choose kiosks as the go to market period is less than a month making it easy to increase customer touch-points across the city," Ali Kassab, CEO of MBME, said.

"Our smart kiosks are designed to be used by different people and optimised to carry out smart services from bill payments, customer information, card issuance [SIM, driver's licence, transport card], customer registration details [biometric capture for Emirates ID authentication] and multi wallet top-up," he added.

MBME plans to increase its reach up to 1,500 smart self-serve kiosks across the UAE and is focused on enhancing smart services. The company has posted 300 per cent increase in transactions and in June closed with 1.6 million plus unique customers. The primary focus of MBME in the second half will be to complete EID biometric reader enrolment on kiosks, offering customers service that is currently unavailable in the market.

"Through our partnership with TRA and the 'SmartPass' programme, we plan to implement a 'single sign-on' gateway for residents of the UAE. We are customising our kiosks to support special needs, human resource enrolment, educational needs and ticket issuance. Facial recognition, BMI scanners are cutting-edge features that are in demand and are high on our priority list. Lastly, we will be focusing on launching innovative channels broadening our service catalogue, providing customers with POS platforms for shops, digital retail solutions, customised payments for e-commerce portals and the launch of the MBME e-wallet," Kassab said.

Another Dubai-based player, PGE Innovations has customers such as etisalat, VFS Global Singapore (visa processing), Vodafone and Airtel in India, and major banks in India and utility payment service companies in the Middle East.

Anil Nair, director, Strategy & Alliances, PGE Innovations, said kiosks and the applications within them have become fairly sophisticated and can provide functionalities such as automated visa processing system with identity management.

"The technological advances in biometric technology, handwriting and face recognition have made kiosks more secure than manual verification. Technology/devices are also available at an affordable price for commercial implementation," he said.

"Similarly, banks have also started deploying digital branches where a branch is manned by only one individual and there are machines that can perform functions such as cash deposit, cash withdrawal, cheque deposit, passbook/statement printing, new account opening and ATM card printing," adds Nair. - sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

Sandhya D'Mello Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Sep 16, 2017
Words:1133
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