The ATM is now 50 years old, having made its debut at Barclays’ branch in Enfield, North London in 1967. The ATM has become a vital component of the global banking system, offering just as many benefits for financial institutions (FIs) as it does for consumers.
We’re all more than familiar with the basic function of the ATM: to dispense cash. But modern-day ATMs are capable of much more than that, from handling basic customer transactions to pioneering new ways for people to engage with their bank. Here are just a few things the ATM as a self-service channel can do to help FIs and their customers.
People all over the world rely on ATMs for quick and easy access to cash, but banks can also use the self-service channel to provide a range of additional services to their customers. Making cash and check deposits, paying bills, transferring funds and topping up mobile phones are just a few of the things people can already do at the ATM.
In the future, we can expect to see this channel expanding its functionality to include things like loading funds onto prepaid cards and buying train, flight or event tickets. This offers convenience for the consumer and revenue-generating opportunities for FIs.
Banks should also remember the business benefits that can be gained from more innovative uses of the ATM. Targeted marketing, for example, and processes like cash recycling can deliver valuable advantages.
The ATM channel offers a way for FIs to improve their brand exposure in areas that are hard to reach, or where they are not willing to consider a larger investment such as a branch.
Offering unrivalled portability, ATMs operate everywhere from the Swiss Alps to the Antarctic. Some machines are specifically designed to function in locations where space is limited or where there is a big risk of inclement weather.
According to a recent report from Retail Banking Research, the proportion of ATMs that are situated away from bank branches rose to more than half (51 percent) in 2015.
Study leader Rowan Berridge said: “As IADs [independent ATM deployers] expand their fleets, more and more retail centers, transport hubs and other non-branch locations will host ATMs. Coupled with increasing off-site deployment by banks, in future it will be even easier for customers to find a convenient ATM away from branches.”
The degree of familiarity that people feel when using ATMs doesn’t preclude the possibility of this channel offering some genuinely new, fulfilling customer experiences.
For example, video technology makes it possible for consumers to use the ATM to make contact with a remote teller outside normal trading hours. This allows people to complete more complicated transactions or make face-to-face contact with their bank without visiting a branch.
The self-service channel can also be an effective way of delivering a new, enjoyable aesthetic experience for the consumer. Why not move away from the image of the ATM as we know it and introduce customers to something they’ve never seen before?
As well as offering all sorts of everyday benefits for bank and customer alike, the ATM channel can provide a forum for real innovation and pioneering thinking in the financial services industry.
One example is thin-client ATMs, which have no internal computing architecture but are remotely connected to a centralized system operated by the FI or ATM deployer. This offers many benefits, including improved security and greater agility for the business when it comes to making updates or rolling out new services.
If banks are willing to invest in this sort of modernization, the self-service channel could look very different by the time the ATM celebrates its 100th anniversary.