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California

B of A to Install 1,900 Talking ATMs in State

March 16, 2000|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bank of America will install about 1,900 talking automated teller machines in California in the next three years to attract blind customers in its largest retail market.

The talking ATMs, which deliver audible instructions and information to customers via a headset, are aimed at attracting customers who are blind or have low vision. The bank said it will install 15 machines in California by May 15.

Bank of America is installing 600 of the machines in Florida, beginning in November, officials said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, which operates the largest network of ATMs in the U.S., with 14,019 machines, isn't the first U.S. bank planning to install talking ATMs to serve the visually impaired. Wells Fargo and Citigroup said last year that they would introduce talking ATMs in California.

"It's part of an industry move," said Ann DeFabio, a Bank of America spokeswoman. "We're trying to meet customers' needs while complying with requirements [to make] our services accessible" for the visually impaired.

Bank of America said 95% of the 2,500 talking ATMs in California and Florida will replace existing ones. Bank of America has 4,088 ATMs in California and 1,741 in Florida. It plans to introduce the talking ATMs in 20 other states where it offers retail banking services.

Customers, who will still have to press transaction buttons as they follow the audible instructions, will also be able to listen to account information such as statements and account balances.

NCR Corp., a Dayton, Ohio-based maker of ATMs, said several other banks in North America, including Wells Fargo and Royal Bank of Canada, are planning to replace some of their banking machines with talking ATMs.

Bloomberg News was used in compiling this report.

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