Following a successful pilot of this new technology, UK building society Nationwide will install intelligent ATMs, initially in 81 branches countrywide. This is likely to be one of the first of a number of developments in the ATM space. Although it will free up staff for sales of higher value services, not all consumers will welcome the longer ATM queues.
Nationwide plans to roll intelligent ATMs out across the UK.
After a trial in fifteen branches, Nationwide aims to roll out intelligent ATMs developed in partnership with NCR to 141 branches by the end of 2002. The ATMs offer users the opportunity to make deposits of cash and cheques and to gain instant proof of deposit, to update passbooks and to print building society cheques.
Nationwide will benefit from this rollout in a number of ways. The units will reduce pressure on branch staff to handle transactions and as a result be more readily available to sell higher value services such as mortgages and loans. Nationwide also argues that the new ATMs will enable it to engage in a more radical branch design strategy.
This is just one example of developments in the ATM space. In Spain, La Caixa and Caja Madrid have ATMs that allow users to buy tickets to cinemas, theatres, sporting events and concerts as well as pay bills, make cash or check deposits and credit prepaid mobile phone cards.
Audio-enabled ATMs are also appearing: Bank of America plans to implement text-to-speech synthesis technology into the majority of its 12,000 ATMs. Other US banks such as Bank One, Fleet Bank, Wells Fargo and Citibank have already rolled out audio-enabled ATMs, or are planning to do so.
But despite the current optimism in ATMs, there is room for caution. Consumers expect quick access to their cash from ATMs. While improvements in ATM functionality may appeal to some consumers, it may also lead to the annoyance of others if they are forced to queue for longer to use an ATM.
So even as banks embark on strategies to improve the range of services on offer at their ATMs, they must not lose sight of the fact that ATMs’ killer application is, and will remain, as a cash distribution channel.