New Zealand's first talking bank cash machines (A.T.M.s) have been installed by 13 branches of the country's credit unions, it was announced. All machines installed in future will have speech capability, according to the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions (N.Z.A.C.U.).
Customers of the not-for-profit unions, which provide banking and insurance services, can access the A.T.M.s through a universal headphone socket using any standard set of headphones. As well as providing vision-impaired users with greater independence, the new machines also enable more privacy when carrying out transactions. The screen goes blank once the user plugs the headphone in, so a sighted person standing close by would not be able to see or hear what transactions are being carried out.
The talking A.T.M.s also provide users with detailed information about their withdrawals. The machine tells the user the number of notes that have been dispensed. New Zealand currency varies only very slightly in size and the notes feel quite similar so it would be difficult to tell what denomination they are. But with the machine, if a user has withdrawn 100 dollars, it would tell him that he has received five notes or 10 notes or two notes, so he would know what denomination they are in.