Talking ATMs to be introduced by RBS and NatWest banks

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RBS and NatWest have announced that they will be rolling out talking ATMs for blind and partially sighted customers from early 2014, as part of an upgrade of their ATM network.

Eighty per cent of the 4,800 RBS and NatWest branded ATMs and in-branch cash and deposit machines will be speech enabled, with delivery completing by the end of 2015.

This means that blind and partially sighted people are able to plug in their earphones to be verbally guided through their transactions.

RBS and NatWest invited the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to discuss the issue of making their ATMs accessible for blind and partially sighted customers as part of stakeholder engagement sessions with the RBS Group Sustainability Committee.

RBS and NatWest have been working closely with RNIB on talking ATMs for over a year. And as a result of the RNIB’s attendance at the engagement session, they have invited them to advise on ATM usability as RBS and NatWest make changes to their ATM network over the next few years. The move has also fulfilled the banks’ commitment to the RNIB’s Make Money Talk campaign.

Ross McEwan, RBS and NatWest Retail Banking CEO said: “As one of the largest ATM providers in the UK, we want to help our customers bank with us in the simplest and most convenient way possible. We know from our discussions with RNIB how important talking ATMs are in improving accessibility and independence for our blind and partially sighted customers. I’m delighted that this enhancement will provide customers with greater access and choice.”

Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE, RNIB’s chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted that RBS and NatWest have joined our Make Money Talk campaign and are set to make just over 3,800 of its ATMs speech enabled, benefiting thousands of people with sight loss. We believe banks in the UK should provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers, across their ATM networks, and now call for other banks to follow RBS and NatWest’s example.”

As well as helping blind and partially sighted consumers, the functionality will also benefit people with a range of disabilities including dyslexia, and other age-related impairments.