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Why banks are using satellite services

Satellite connectivity is commonly considered a last mile solution only for areas where there is little or no coverage of other networks such as fibre or 3G. However, its high reliability and ubiquitous coverage have resulted in the banking sector using satellite communication networks to ensure that ATM service points and Point of Sale (PoS) devices are always connected.

ATMs and PoS devices require reliable connectivity in order to transmit data from their location to a server, and from the server back to their location. Reliable connectivity is therefore essential, as any drops in communication could result in revenue loss, increased operational cost and reduced customer satisfaction.

In the case of ATMs, poor connectivity could result in customer loss or worst, brand damage. In the case of a PoS device, poor connectivity could result in the customer being unable to complete a transaction or merchants being unable to trade. Given the negative impact poor communication has on point-of-sale services leading banks are taking the initiative to provide reliable communication as part of the financial services.

This is why one of South Africa's largest banks uses satellite connectivity as very high availability back-up, for trusted ATM and point-of-sale or as a failsafe for disaster recovery connectivity, says Dawie de Wet, CEO of Q-KON. "For banking and finance industries, connectivity is more important than it has ever been, with secure and reliable connectivity being critical. Communications need to be assured not just for ATMs and PoS transactions, but also between the institution's headquarters, data centres and branches. There is a constant demand for more sites and more bandwidth to support the operational data and financial transactions in these networks."

He adds that innovations such as mobile payments and mobile banking are shifting the focus from traditional networks towards connectivity-based applications, especially in emerging markets. "Primary or back-up satellite connectivity easily blends into existing IT networks and the applicable connectivity mix. Integrated with terrestrial networks, satellite access services can enable 99.95% availability."

As well as addressing a fixed location, a satellite solution can easily be deployed in a transportable configuration, where it can serve the connectivity needs for transactions during events, de Wet says. "Satellite access services require the minimum onsite infrastructure and don't require any long-distance terrestrial plant infrastructure, enabling the swift deployment of services for events."

In addition, satellite services are extremely cost effective. According to de Wet, applied within the correct business model and leveraging the unique advantages of the satellite architecture, IP access services can be provided at extremely attractive cost levels. "The flexible costing and business models of satellite access networks are some of the reasons why more and more banking and financial organisations select satellite networks to complement and expand existing terrestrial communication networks."


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