American Savings Bank ATMs now speak Chinese
American Savings Bank
has introduced the Chinese language to its automatic teller machines at two branches, due to customer demand.
Based on TheBuzz's research it appears to be the first bank in Hawaii to have bilingual ATMs.
"Every day we have a lot of Chinese customers that come into the bank and about 80 percent of them are looking for a Chinese-speaking teller to help them with their transactions," said Thong Songvilay, Chinatown Branch manager.
Many primarily Chinese-speaking customers have used the bank's ATMs in the past by memorizing the sequence of actions needed to complete transactions, "but if we change the screen or the verbiage then they're lost," he said.
The bank decided, "we should have it in Chinese to help them," Songvilay said.
The way it works is, the first screen instructs a customer, in English and Chinese, to insert their card. The next screen offers the choice to proceed in either language.
The dialect spoken by the user does not matter because the characters are the same, Songvilay said.
The bilingual ATMs are at the Chinatown branch on North King Street near Maunakea Street and at the Liliha branch, at the corner of Vineyard Blvd. and Liliha Street.
There are no plans to expand the option within American Savings' 63 branches or 200-plus ATMs, because there has been no customer demand, he said.
American Savings offers English and Japanese versions of its Web site as do other local banks.
First Hawaiian Bank's Web site is also in English and Japanese. The bank is considering adding multilingual service to its ATMs, which were the first in the state to accept credit and ATM cards from Shanghai-based bankcard association China Unionpay, said spokeswoman Susan Kam. Its merchants also accept the cards.
In addition to English and Japanese, Bank of Hawaii offers Chinese pages with either complex or simplified characters. Its ATMs are not multilingual, but multilingual services are available at Bankoh's international banking center at 2155 Kalakaua Ave., said spokesman Stafford Kiguchi.
Of the two new state-chartered banks, Pacific Rim Bank and Ohana Pacific Bank, only Pacific Rim offers online service in English and Japanese. While Ohana Pacific services are available to the whole community, its Web site says it places emphasis on residents and businesses in its predominantly Korean market area.
The Hawaii Bankers Association does not have a database of which banks offer which multilingual services, but ATM operation is rather universal and "intuitive," said Executive Director Gary Fujitani. He recently traveled to Europe "and I didn't have any problems using the ATMs there," though the screens were not in English, he said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org