Wooing the Banks and Credit Unions

How Curt Binns and ATMIA are shifting the perception of independent ATM operators in Canada to draw the attention of larger financial institutions

Over the course of Curt Binns’s 37-year career in finance, he has come to be known as the man who can take on a challenge, thanks in part to his 24 years at HSBC, which was new to Canada when he worked for it. “I got to do a lot of different things,” he says.

When the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) approached Curt Binns in 2010, he was happily running his own change-management consulting business and wasn’t looking for a change himself. Famous last words. Three years later, as the executive director for ATMIA Canada, Binns has driven the association in a new, more inclusive and accommodating direction. Take a look at the stats to understand how.

24 years

Binns knows the Canadian banking industry. In 1976, straight out of high school, he began working for the Bank of British Columbia, which was later acquired by HSBC. He stayed for 24 years. Then he worked at ICICI Bank for a little more than a year before launching his own business. When ATMIA approached him, he knew it was a good fit. “I liked what the association was doing, and I was familiar with ATMs from my banking career, so I had a lot to offer as well,” he says.


The ATM space has changed dramatically in the past few years, particularly in Canada. When ATMIA was launched, in 1997, its membership almost entirely comprised independent operators, who purchase and set up ATM networks that are not owned and operated by banks. “They’re called ATMs, but they’re really cash dispensers, and you pay a surcharge for that, usually from two to four dollars,” Binns says.

11 banks

In Canada, Binns says, just 11 banks make industry decisions and drive regulations, which independent operators are obligated to follow. “Most people have no idea how hard it is for independent operators to stay in business, given the cost of equipment and the regulatory burden,” he says. “In recent years, there’s been a lot of consolidation, with smaller players getting out of the market and selling their portfolios of ATMs to larger players.”

5-year plan

In 2010, ATMIA developed a five-year plan: by the end of 2014, it wanted each of its chapters to have an executive director, an annual event, a training and certification program, a government-relations committee, and a vibrant online community that would allow each chapter to evolve into a semiautonomous, self-sustaining profit centre. As part of that plan, the association hired Binns to serve as executive director of its Canada chapter.


When Binns joined ATMIA in 2011, banks and credit unions did not see the association’s many independent operators as stand-up businesses to be involved with, and as a result, few banks and credit unions were members of ATMIA. Binns therefore sought to develop the credibility of independent operators. “I think, as an industry, we’ve turned that around,” he says. Today, ATMIA Canada’s members operate 60,000 machines, one-third of which are operated by financial institutions and two-thirds of which are operated by independent operators, also known as white labels.

3,949 members

Currently, ATMIA’s global reach spans 60 countries, with 3,949 members operating 2.2 million ATMs. The bulk of its members (1,588) are ATM manufacturers, followed by independent operators (630), but the association also includes network processors, software companies, and maintenance companies, among others. To help these members, ATMIA monitors regulatory developments; liaises with governing bodies; provides education, including conferences, webinars, and white papers; and disperses best practices such as the prevention of mobile theft and the decommissioning of ATMs.

40 ATM operators

In 2011, ATMIA ran its first benchmarking survey for ATM operators. The survey, which was conducted with input from more than 40 top-tier ATM operators around the globe, allows ATMIA members to get a handle on best practices. A second benchmarking survey is focusing on critical areas of the ATM value chain, showing significant variance to industry benchmarks in effectiveness, revenue, and cost performance.

37 years

Soon after Binns began working for the Bank of British Columbia, an executive visited from Toronto and gave the line staff a speech about what the bank could do to succeed: cut expenses, increase no-interest revenue, and tighten controls. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is neat stuff,’” Binns says. “But 20 years later, I was making the same speech, and the message is the same today, [37 years later]. From the day I started in banking, the industry has been in a state of flux, and we need to keep adapting.”


Job title
Executive director

Nonprofit, financial services

Years in the business

Where did you start your career?
As a teller for the Bank of British Columbia.

Describe yourself in three words
Inquisitive, energetic, get-it-done.

Advice to those just starting in finance
Keep your eye open to change.