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An exploratory study of women’s perceptions of safety as Automated Teller Machine (ATM) users: a select sample in eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)

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Women as active and equal citizens of South Africa enjoy equal access to South African banking facilities. Banks mobilise, allocate and invest much of the savings of a society and therefore, their ability to provide a safe banking environment has substantive repercussions on its expansion and sustainability. A banking facility that necessitates safety is the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) environment. Safety of ATM users (customers) is a human right and that makes it a necessity, user confidence and continued user participation. Against this landscape, the current study sought to explore women’s perceptions of safety as ATM users in the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. Thus, the aim of the study was to explore a select sample of women’s perceptions of safety as ATM users. The objectives of the study were to understand women’s perceptions of safety as ATM users in the eThekwini municipality by making use of a quantitative research design. A survey instrument, the questionnaire was constructed and used as the data gathering tool for the study. 100 survey questionnaires were administered to participants using snowball sampling. This sampling technique was most appropriate given the sensitive nature of the study namely seeking perceptions on ATM safety. The participants were all women from the four main race groups in KwaZulu-Natal namely African, Indian, White and coloured. They represented six age categories namely from 18 to 65 years of age. Participants were recruited from ABSA, Standard, First National, Nedbank and Capitec banks. Findings show that participants were aware of precautions to take irrespective of age, race or banking institution. First National and Standard Bank participants scored the highest in terms of agreeing with their level of awareness. In terms of feeling safe using ATM’s where a security guard is present the 42 to 49 year old women had the highest responses. Further findings show that the responses in the disagree and neutral scales were particularly interesting when participants were posed with the question: “My banking institution does not need any more ATM safety measures”. In the 42 to 49 year age category 17.2 % of participants believed that their banking institutions actually need more ATM safety measures followed by 15.2 % of the 34 to 41 category. The lowest response to this statement was generated from the 18-25 year category of participants. Findings also show that when participants were asked to respond to the statement “I am not afraid to use ATM's at a well-lit, open, high traffic area” the majority responses were in the neutral and agree scales. Findings of the study revealed that women across all race groups are equally vulnerable to ATM crime or feelings of insecurity when using ATM’s. Although the study makes a variety of recommendations for future research in the area, one critical recommendation is for a mixed method research design that could also inquire from participants what they consider suitable remedies for women victims of ATM crime. Here the focus should be on indirect costs of ATM crime including pain, suffering, psychological impact and the trauma experienced by the victim.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.