How NoteMachine’s ongoing technological development supports modern banking

We take a look at how NoteMachine have advanced their technological processes, placing them at the forefront of the banking world.

NoteMachine started off as a family-run enterprise. The company has experienced some real growth since its acquisitions of Scott Todd in 2006 and TRM in 2007.

In 2012 the company won a contract to manage Santander’s remote estate. When Santander divested of their remote estate, it required encompassing things like organising engineers, setting up fault codes and seeing how the ATMs interact with the systems.

A comms solution was also set up for NoteMachine which involved two different comms networks to sustain the new ATMs being onboarded. NoteMachine acquired 1,600 ATMs at that time, taking the ATM count up to 7,800. It currently stands at 11,000 ATMs, and is still growing.

NoteMachine deployed an MPLS cloud network, essentially a private comms network which was brought in-house for cost savings, ease of deployment and control. It means that they can purchase ‘wires only’ solutions, ordering the telephone lines from the supplier to then configure our own routers on the network.
In the coming years, NoteMachine continued to grow organically and through acquisition as they took on other financial institutions’ ATM estates, such as HSBC and Nationwide.

NoteMachine’s spike in technological growth between 2013 and 2015

In 2013/2014, NoteMachine took on its first managed service customer, Metro Bank, then Virgin Money, leading to a lot of growth and development of teams over those years.

Then in 2015, it embarked on ‘Project Frontier’ – the final frontier of vertical integration within the company. NoteMachine has an ethos to ‘do it in house’ where possible: which means it has its own call centre, own engineers and its own comms networks.

Driven by a cost saving but also for more control, the last process to bring in-house was the transaction processing platform. Transaction processing is NoteMachine’s lifeline which meant downtime wasn’t an option while setting this up. Going through the migration process, took a year and required moving all the ATMs from one platform to another. It was a huge project and a big learning curve for the company.

What is a transaction processing platform?

It’s essentially a payment platform that is a switch which is used to drive the ATMs. It allows NoteMachine to be more agile for its customers: changing screens, download options and enhancing what the machines can do.

From a cost-saving perspective it was a transformation for the business which also came with a leap of knowledge. NoteMachine embedded these end-to-end processes while upskilling the team at the same time, bringing them along with the journey. NoteMachine finally had end-to-end control of all its managed ATMs when the platform went live in 2017.

The impact on NoteMachine’s managed services offering

With these changes, NoteMachine could now offer all sorts of additional support to financial institutions from a managed services perspective. For example, the model used by Metro Bank in 2013 meant they owned their ATMs and filled the machines with cash themselves, but NoteMachine goes one step further.

The company provides first and second line engineering, processing settlement services, dispute management and the account management wrap. The same model is currently being deployed for the Bank of Ireland in Europe; it’s an end-to-end solution as a managed service, yet they will still own the ATMs.

What is the benefit of a deposit function in ATMs and how did NoteMachine make it accessible for customers?

At the time when COVID-19 hit, NoteMachine were busy building a deposit transaction on the platform. It took a year to build with the main challenge being how to effectively service customers, making it easy for them to use NoteMachine’s managed services.

NoteMachine uses Vocalink as a gateway, which is the hub used by every financial institution in the UK, with a Point of Presence (PoP) in Vocalink’s data centres. The company already had the routing set up so the team only needed to make firewall changes, agree to the terms and set up the links.

NoteMachine now has a deposit PoP in Vocalink data centres, making it easier for any FI to link up with NoteMachine. There is a standard protocol of how they message each other, and they’re already there, Vocalink essentially a project in the middle which joined up those services and ensuring that the end-to-end process worked.

By early 2021, NoteMachine had the ability to offer not just cash withdrawals, but also deposit services.

NoteMachine’s technical development has seen the company successfully break into a new market. What’s its secret to success?

NoteMachine is lucky to have an amazing team of people who understand the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and building relationships – both internally, and with customers.

When The Brinks’ Company acquired NoteMachine in October 2022, the transaction processing machine was business as usual. If that’s not working, no money is made. Everything leads back to the processing platform, and it’s our key focus to ensure that it doesn’t go down. The team have built in huge amounts of contingency and resilience, enabling us to handle the peaks and always maintain business as usual.

We’re a company that doesn’t like to stand still which keeps us at the forefront of the changes. NoteMachine is also in the process of building a European processing platform and constantly working on server developments to enable our customers to benefit from our fully managed services.

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