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Kiosks in IndiaThe Evolution:In India, the evolution of the Kiosks can be attributed to the introduction,adoption and growth of ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines). In India the firstATM was introduced by HSBC way back in 1987; however much of the growthhas been witnessed in the last 3-5 years. What started as a money vendingmachine has gone beyond the banking sector and catering to diversefunctionalities across the following sectors: Education, Airline, Telecom,Government, Retail, Healthcare, Hospitality etc. One comes upon various kindsof Interactive kiosks (beyond an ATM) in our day to day life: Tele-kiosk, Photokiosk, Way finder kiosk, Check-in Kiosk, Utility bill payment(mobile/electricity) kiosk, Internet kiosk, Ticketing kiosk, Security kiosk,Marketing kiosk, Crowd management kiosk, Survey kiosk, Video Kiosk, MusicKiosk, Cheque collection kiosk, etc.Type of Kiosks:The word “kiosk” is a generic term and may have several categories (retaildisplays, vending machines, digital signages, retail kiosks, point of purchase,
interaction kiosks, etc). It would be more pertinent to classify it as Interactivekiosks and Non-Interactive kiosks.To understand the kiosksmarket in India a parallelmaybe drawn to the growthof ATMs. As per the dataprovided by NationalPayments Corporation of India(NPCI), the number of ATMsacross the country has risennearly one-third (69,324) overJanuary 2011.The prospect of Kiosks ispromising across servicesindustries like Banking &Finance, Education, Travel(Airline, Railways), Telecom,Retail, Healthcare, Travel &Tourism, Hospitality, etc.Kiosks vs Mobile Devices:Today mobile devices provide (or can provide) a significant number offunctionalities being offered by kiosks (other than physical transactions likephoto printing, Cheque collection). With the introduction of M-commerceservices (given the revised RBI guidelines), it would also be possible to remitmoney using mobile service as also to collect cash through mobile retailers.Kiosks would still be used largely as a money vending machine given thecustomer preference; while some of the other value added services (billpayment, information) may not become that popular owing to increasedpenetration of mobile and Internet services in the country. On the contrary,with the education of consumers “self help” kiosks may gain popularityespecially in the high foot-fall areas (Malls), Airports, Railway stations, Retailstores and modern trade outlets. Impetus should be to define “relevant” or“distinct” service offerings which otherwise may not be substituted by themobile services. An example to quote in this regard would be the immigrationkiosks introduced by the United States Department of Homeland Security wherevisitors register when they enter/exit United States.
Given the skepticism & lack of knowledge relating to mobile based transactions(or M-commerce) of Indian consumer which would make the kiosks moreapproachable. Indian consumer still believes in the “touch and feel”psychology.While on the other hand, the reach and availability of the kiosk to the endcustomer (especially in the rural India) would define the business case or thehigher uptake of mobile based services (information, transaction, etc) in theseareas.Technological Innovations in Kiosks:While there may be several technological innovations which can provide themuch needed fillip to kiosks over mobile devices; it would be the “relevance”and the “distinction” factor which would be instrumental in its success in theIndian market. Some of the key factors that may help kiosks with-standcompetition from cell-phones are as follows: – Specialization: Kiosks offer specialized features which would otherwise be difficult to replicate over mobile devices. Example: Kodak, the inventor of the photo kiosk, have launched PYNK Smart Print System which automatically measures, crops, arranges and prints photos to fit a frame. It also empowers the consumer to create designer-quality framed collages within seconds. – Security: Seldom would an Indian consumer count the cash disbursed by an ATM; while they would still be skeptic about a mobile or a digital transaction. Security is a key aspect that consumers look forward to during a transaction. Access to secured patient data through biometric identification, facial compatibility or fingerprint scanning maybe one example of enhanced security that can be provided by a Healthcare Kiosk. – Virtual Reality: To add to the Indian psychology of “touch and feel” transaction a 3D Kiosk can provide an opportunity to display or demonstrate products in 3D. Customers can spin the products and zoom in to study the details.
– Physical Transaction: Ability of the kiosk to accept or deliver physical items (cash, Cheque, forms, map, reports, etc) from/to the user (with the added functionality of user security and transaction conformance) provides an edge over mobile devices.– Cooperation: Mobile services can supplement the growth of kiosks. Example: Tata Docomo would be doing a pilot on NFC (Near Field Communication) Kiosk. The self-service kiosk would allow the customers to pay bills, to top-up their prepaid account, to download ring tones and wallpapers and perform a number of other value-added services using NFC. A video enabled customer support through a Self service kiosk maybe another initiative for the mobile services industry.