ICICI Bank ATM Machine: A Usability nightmare

ATM Machines are supposed to be made as user-friendly as it can be. But is it?

ATM Machines are supposed to be made as user-friendly as it can be, considering the following factors:

  • It is to be self-operated, with no help around what so ever in case if you need one. In any case, since this relates to your own money, the last thing you would like to do is seek help from a stranger to operate your own Debit card.
  • It concerns the operation of one own’s finances, one mistake and the user may just end up panicking.
  • Because of the nature of the transaction, it’s supposed to be made as quick and smooth as possible.

I have found there are many issues that plague the ICICI Bank ATM machines in my city, Kolkata, INDIA, please note since I have my account there, so I end up mostly accessing the ICICI Bank ATM Machines, am sure some of these “dis” features is present in other ATM machines as well:

  • The machine that Supports Decimal Places: This is one of the most irritating and actually ridiculous features of some of the ATM machines. They force the user to enter the extra “00” after the decimal. So when we want to withdraw Rs. 4,000, if we are not careful we may just key in “4000” we end up withdrawing Rs. 40/- (40.00)!!! Absolutely ridiculous! Who came up with a system like this!? and even more surprising is there are still quite a few ATM machine that continues to operate this way.
  • Dip Machine Access Status: This is an issue with ATM machine that operates by inserting the card momentarily and taking it out. The problem is there are no defined time or any status messages that let us know if our card has been read correctly before we remove it. So sometimes we end up removing it too soon and sometime too late.
    The Solution: Once we insert our card there should be a status message on the screen that says, “Reading Card…” then “Card Read, You may now remove the Card”. It will leave the unpredictability out of this whole process.
  • The Misalignment of Screen element with the real buttons outside the screens: The is a very common issue, especially with the older machines, the screen elements just somehow doesn’t line up with the actual buttons outside the screens. So sometimes you end up pressing the wrong option, or no options at all. Eg. suppose you want to “Withdraw Cash” and you will find the “Withdraw Cash” Option arrow pointing somewhere between two actual buttons… You sometimes have to make a guess on which button to press.
    Solution: Am not sure if this is Practical, but to Banish the real buttons altogether. Some ATM Machines actually operates that way.
  • The Timeout feature: This problem is faced acutely by new ATM users or the elderly users who take some time to read and comprehend the next action. By the time they have understood the message and make a choice they receive a “Time Out” message.
    Solution: A) The timeout should definitely be increased in some of the machines. And maybe a 10-second countdown timer should be shown once the timeout reaches less than 10 seconds. For those fearing that the longer session period might be misused by other users, my suggestions is a “Log Out” or “End Transaction” option. This brings me to my next suggestion.
  • Log Out Option: How often have we waited for the ATM screen to return to the initial state screen, to ensure that we have safely logged out. I feel after each transaction is complete, we should be given an option to “Log Out” or “End Transaction” so that we do not even have to wait for it to auto logout. For those who may forget to press the log out button, there could be a countdown timer status that shows “This transaction will log out in XXX seconds”
  • Auto-Detecting Savings/Current Account: This is a minor suggestion, but I think anything that will help save the user a step, it would be really helpful. Unless one Debit card can hold two accounts, why do we need to always select which account (ie. Savings or Current) we are operating. It should auto detect which account we are accessing and help us skip one extra step.

I wouldn’t have noticed some of the usability issues, had I not accompany my mum, who like most of the people in their generation isn’t very tech savvy and requires some time to read through and comprehend instructions. Think about it, many of the parents who have children working abroad and not many people around, when they receive money into their account they would never dare to venture into an ATM alone just thinking about the complexity they would have to encounter there.


Author: Robert Hsu aka Hsu Ka An

I am Hsu Ka An a.k.a Robert. I am a third generation Indian Chinese and an HFI - Certified Usability Analyst . I have been in the UX Role since the last 6 years. I am currently working as a Sr. UX Designer in Quantum Inventions, a company that deal with Digital Mobility Solutions like GPS and Logistics Tracking. Prior to that I worked in Web Spiders Pvt. Ltd. Beside work: I am an avid hoarder of visual ideas I do write some time at my Blog site I help my fellow Uxer’s to find their way in the UX Industry. I am also an active member of the Indian Chinese Association and lead the team in organising various cultural events.

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