Rautakirja and Eurocash Finland bring ATMs to R-kiosks. In the next few years, more than 500 machines will be installed in R-kiosks across Finland. The first ATMs have already been installed in the Helsinki city centre. The machines are supplied by Sweden's leading independent ATM provider, Kontanten.

Finland has the second most under-developed network of ATMs in Europe, which is reflected in the highest number of withdrawals per machine on the continent. In recent years, ATMs have been centralised in busy business locations, and at the same time, the total number of service-points has fallen. Despite this trend, the need for cash withdrawals remains unchanged.

"We are concerned about this recent development, which has complicated cash withdrawals. We want to do our share to ensure that people have access to local services on a daily basis," says Markku Pelkonen, Senior Vice President, Kiosk Operations at Rautakirja.

By the summer, Rautakirja will introduce more than 50 ATMs to R-kiosks in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Based on user experiences, the ATM volume will be expanded to more than 500 machines. The first machines are installed in two R-kiosks near the Helsinki railway station and on the downtown street Keskuskatu. The machines allow withdrawals with Visa, Mastercard and Visa Electron, as well as the new SEPA debit cards that will replace the current Finnish bank debit cards by the end of 2010.

Rautakirja's partner in the project is Kontanten AB, the leading private ATM provider in the Nordic countries, whose Finnish operations are run by the subsidiary Eurocash Finland Oy. Other partners include the Nordic companies EDB and Teller, of which the latter manages the Visa credit card business in Norway.

Consumers can use the ATMs without a separate charge. A standard commission will be charged by the customer's bank for credit card withdrawals.

"Our benefits will come out of increased customer volumes and sales growth, made possible by introducing the ATMs in our kiosks. Cash plays a significant role in the kiosk business. Up to 75% of the sales are generated by cash purchases", Markku Pelkonen explains.

In addition to Rautakirja business locations, ATMs will in the future be installed in shopping centres, stations, and along other busy pedestrian routes with high demand. A well-functioning concept may also be replicated in other Rautakirja's operating countries, such as in the Baltics and Russia.

Rautakirja is the market leader in kiosk operations, press distribution, and movie theatres in Finland and the Baltic States as well as in press distribution in the Netherlands and Romania. Additionally, it leads the Finnish and Estonian markets for bookstores. Press distribution and the kiosk operations businesses have also expanded into the Russian market. Rautakirja has 712 R-kiosks across Finland with more than 110 million customer transactions annually. The newest market for kiosk trade is Romania, where it begins in April 2008.

Rautakirja is part of the SanomaWSOY Group, a strong European media group operating in diverse fields of media in over 20 countries.

Kontanten AB is the leading deployer of ATMs in the Nordic market, independent of banks or other financial institutions. The business concept is to give the consumers easy and secure access to cash and to be present in high traffic locations, for instance in supermarkets, malls, and gas stations all over the Nordic region. Kontanten has deployed ATMs since 2005 and is present in all major Swedish cities.

SEPA is an acronym for the words Single Euro Payments Area. The European Commission has set the goal of forming a single market in payment transactions in the European Economic Area. This area will benefit European consumers and businesses. SEPA services will be introduced in stages starting in the eurozone in 2008. The transition period is scheduled to end for credit transfers at the end of 2010. (Source: Federation of Finnish Financial Services)