In less than two years’ time, some 3.5 million ATMs will need to be upgraded to the Windows 10 operating system—will your credit union’s machines be ready?

When you consider the need for board approval, comprehensive beta testing and manufacturer lead times, making the Jan. 14, 2020 deadline for this project won’t be a walk in the park. That’s why some credit unions are being proactive about beating this looming deadline.

“We learned about the mandatory upgrade last year,” said Los Angeles Federal Credit Union’s Vice President of Operations Sonia Turner. The $928 million credit union supports seven branches and 21 ATMs.

Turner explained that LAFCU’s ATM fleet has different machines, some of which can be updated, but others will make “more sense” to replace. The process began in earnest in November 2017.

“We definitely feel that we will be in compliance by the first quarter of 2019 with all ATMs,” said Turner.

Texas Tech Federal Credit Union isn’t waiting around, either. The $154 million credit union’s Chief Experience Officer Lisa Huertas explained that Texas Tech has 10 interactive teller machines (ITMs) that function as ATMs. Like Los Angeles Federal CU, her team is also being proactive.

“There are a few things that are a little bit unknown with regards to some of the granular deliverables,” said Huertas. “We know there will be some hardware components that will need to be replaced and software that will need to be upgraded and tested in our lab unit before it’s deployed globally.”

Both Los Angeles Federal and Texas Tech are clients of Financial Technology Solutions International (FTSI). The Monrovia, Calif.-based firm provides ATM technology services to more than 150 credit unions and has recently hosted online seminars about the compliance regulation.

“At this point, everyone is on a Windows operating system and everyone must do this upgrade. There is no choice,” said FTSI’s COO Mike Wilson. “Windows is what makes these machines PCI compliant.”

In preparation for the Windows 10 migration, Terry Pierce, senior product manager for the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based CO-OP Financial Services, “encourages credit unions to contact their ATM vendors” to perform an assessment of their ATM fleets for potential hardware and/or software upgrades or replacements. While she did not have the exact number of ATMs that will require migration or updating, CO-OP comprises nearly 30,000 ATMs nationwide.

“CO-OP is committed to ensuring that our terminal-driving platform supports Windows 10, and we are working diligently with our ATM vendor partners to support this migration,” said Pierce.

Upgrade timeline
Since all credit unions will need to bring respective ATMs up to speed by early 2020, Wilson implores credit unions to get ahead of the curve to avoid the “mad rush” toward compliance.

“Waiting is a burden for us and them [credit union clients],” said Wilson. “A lot of credit unions tend to wait until the last minute and are stuck in line and then they can [only] hope to get a last-minute extension.”

From the planning phase to roll out, Wilson said credit unions should estimate an 11 to 13 month timeline. And he encourages executives to start as soon as possible. The process includes obtaining respective budget approval, being placed in the vendor queue, determining whether to upgrade or replacing the fleet as well as ordering the necessary hardware and software.

In an effort to be as least disruptive as possible to membership, Huertas said Texas Tech is taking an early-adopter approach that will afford ample time for beta testing, which is another compliance timeline variable.

“Unless there is some polishing to do, we are expecting the beta testing to take four weeks,” said Huertas. She said the credit union’s IT and operations employees will work with FTSI to ensure a smooth roll out for its more than 19,500 members and 80 employees.

“We have adopted video training micro sessions for every new product we roll out,” she said. “We can do live training as well as have archival videos for review if employees have questions.”

As far as the installation process is concerned for Los Angles FCU’s rollout, Turner said FTSI will be doing most of the “heavy lifting.” The credit union’s two tech employees and four operations employees will assist, she noted.

“There are webinars from FTSI that we will be sitting in on to ensure that we are fully aware of what the expectations are,” said Turner adding there will also be “education” for the credit union’s 62,000 members.

Like Texas Tech, LAFCU is budgeting time for testing, Turner said, noting, “We will do a pilot with one of the new ATMs, which will be for three to four weeks before we flip the switch for all the ATMs.”

Turner added that the credit union also handled all the internal planning and scheduling “in order to be placed on FTSI’s calendar.” This effort speaks to Wilson’s point about waiting too long to start the upgrade process.

“We are doing the best we can to get credit unions upgraded, but there is only so much time in the day to get every customer upgraded,” said Wi