First Republic Bank

Personalizing the ATM Experience

First Republic Bank has specialized in personalized relationship-based financial services for over 30 years. What originally began as a rebranding effort, turned into a complete overhaul of the ATM experience through the addition of touchscreens and personalized preferences that together reduced the average transaction time by 60%.


How Can We Improve the ATM Experience?

Withdrawing money from the ATM is one of those tasks that should just work. Most users probably don’t think about this process unless things go wrong. Because there was already an effort to update the ATMs for accessibility, upgrading the branding as well as the user experience at the same time was a cost effective way to achieve multiple goals. We knew that this was the perfect opportunity to revisit the entire experience and make sure that is was not only efficient but also carried over the personalized touch and care that our clients normally encounter in our offices.


Frustrating Button Alignment

After spending a few minutes standing in front of one of the machines, it became apparent that the major issues that plagued every machine was the physical buttons. For those not familiar with older ATMs, the machine has a numeric keypad for input as well as a set of eight, unlabelled multi-purpose physical buttons along both the left and right sides of the screen. During transactions, these physical buttons will have a label shown on the screen to signify different options or steps the user can take. Unfortunately, these buttons do not always have a function assigned to them and depending on the user’s height or viewing angle, the label and button alignment are not always easy to decipher causing frustration for users who just want to get their money and be on their way.


Transitioning to Touchscreens

Knowing that touch screens were being used by many of the national competitors, I was surprised to find out that upgrading to a touch screen would be a plausible way to address the button alignment issue that plagued so many of the current First Republic ATMs. The price of touchscreens had been declining over the years, and the bank agreed that all future ATMs and current ATMs that needed to be upgraded for accessibility would be eligible for the touch screen upgrade as well.

Mapping Out the Steps

The first thing we did was map out the steps and start brainstorming how we might be able to make the experience more efficient. One area that stood out was how much shorter the “Fast $100” option was compared to manually selecting withdrawal and inputting the $100 selection.

Iterating on the Layout

We wanted to make sure that the new layout conveyed the new brand experience and was consistent across every screen. We made sure the language, button placement, and imagery was consistent across each and every screen.

Finding the Perfect Button

Because many of our clients are much older, we wanted to make sure that the digital buttons were not too distracting but inviting enough so they could easily be pressed. After several  iterations, we finally found the perfect design.

Prioritizing Personalization with Preferences

After looking at the anonymous transaction amounts and interviewing both staff and clients, we found that 80% of users consistently withdrew the same amount from the ATM each visit. We already knew that the “Fast $100” option was popular because of how many steps it saved the user, but we wanted to see if we could push this concept even further by allowing users to set their own withdrawal amounts.

Increase Flexibility with Custom Withdrawal Amounts

Although the “Fast $100” amount worked for many of our users, we wanted to give more flexibility to our users that might want to withdraw a different amount. Allowing users to set an amount other than $100 means that we are saving users time so they don’t have to manually input a custom amount each time.

Save Time with Saved Preferences

Not only did we allow users to set their own withdrawal amounts, but we also allowed them to select which account the withdrawal will be coming from and determining the receipt delivery option so they didn't have to do make these selections each and every time they visited the ATM. Instead, they could save these preferences and simply select the “Quick” option.

Targeted Offers for Specific Audiences

We were able to take advantage of knowing the locations of the ATMs and target users in that area by showing specific offers. One of our more popular products was the ATM Rebate Checking because it allowed clients to travel internationally and use any ATM without worrying about ATM fees. We promoted this product as well as some of our standard perks like freshly baked cookies on the ATMs to help entice potential customers to come and chat with our of our bankers to learn more about our products.

Reducing Transaction Time by 60%

By allowing users to set their preferences, we reduced the average transaction time by 60%. Not only were we able to fix the button alignment frustrations, but we were able to do it in a more personalized method that our clients appreciated. Clients welcomed the new branding and especially loved the ability to set their own preferences.


Identify More Opportunities for Prospects

Our primary focus was making sure the experience was seamless and personalized for our clients, but one thing I would do differently next time is spending more time to identify opportunities for prospects. Being located in prime tourists areas in major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York gives us access to plenty of prospective clients that visit the ATMs and provides us with unique ways to target these people. We promoted one of our most popular products, ATM Rebate Checking, but I know there could have been more targeted messages we could have developed with a deeper study of non-client transactions.

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