HDFC Bank* ATM UI – Layered Narrative

* Any bank for that matter

The ‘closest ATM’ is always ‘my ATM’ regardless of which bank has issued the card to me. Like millions, even I subscribe to convenience more than brand loyalty when it comes to cash withdrawal. In fact I don’t even know/care if there is a surcharge that other banks charge me on every withdrawal (I guess this rule used to be there and has been cancelled since).

a few days ago I was withdrawing some cash from an HDFC Bank ATM (with my ICICI card). Here is what I saw –


The notice about foreign cards attracting an additional fee was right in my face. Clearly the system was intelligent enough to understand that card was not from HDFC Bank. But it wasn’t intelligent enough to understand that the card was from an INDIAN bank!

But what struck me as funny was that on a Marathi interface, the notice was in english. (if the user has selected a particular language, the notice should be in THAT language). So the system was assuming that I was a foreign national who would understand only English, but somehow has selected Marathi as the preferred language! Er…?

I understand that the real life is far from ideal. Maybe it was an RBI directive that was issued only in one language… But hold on! The Marathi screen below was the exact translation! Curiosity got better of me and I inserted my card again, this time selecting English as my preferred language. This is what I saw –


Well, what do you know! The superimposed notice was not a translation job after all! Here the notice which was nicely set in English behind was repeated in BOLD ALL CAPITAL LETTERS obscuring the menu alongside as well. I can almost picture an RBI (or some such authority) issuing not just the notice, but also the screen for delivering it!

This made for a less than ideal user experience, but more importantly showed lack of regard for the user whatsoever. It is regrettable that banks (HDFC is not alone in this) are letting mandatory messages mess up their interfaces. What they need are brand / experience managers who are sensitive to these minor (but damaging nonetheless) issues and who can iron them out before they become the norm.

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