The LINK cash machine network has announced that prepay mobile phone customers will soon be able to top-up their prepay mobile phones from cash machines. Orange and Abbey National have already piloted a similar service. But consumers may never see cash machines as anything other than a source of cash.
LINK cash machines will soon allow users to top-up their prepay mobile phones.
Some commentators would have us believe that cash machine users want more than cash from cash machines. LINK certainly thinks so and will soon allow users to add credit to their prepay phones by inserting their cash card into the machine and by following the on-screen top-up procedure. Vodafone will be the first mobile phone operator to offer the new service, although LINK expects other operators to follow suit soon.
The new cash machine service is innovative but it is not ground breaking. Orange, Euronet and Abbey National have already conducted a pilot of a similar service in the UK. Orange has been distributing ‘pay-as-you-go top up’ vouchers via ATMs in Belgium for the last three years. 30% of its Belgian ‘pay-as-you-go’ customers use the service.
European cash machines also already offer a host of other services. Spanish cash machines offered by banks La Caixa and Caja Madrid allow users to buy tickets to cinemas, theatres, sporting events and concerts as well as pay bills, make cash or cheque deposits and credit prepaid mobile phone cards. In Russia some mobile phone operators allow phone bills to be paid via cash machines.
Indeed, the possibilities are endless: anything that is dispensed by a kiosk could also be dispensed via a cash machine. Consequently, we could one day see cash machines dispensing passport photos, and food and drink items. There is also potential for cash machines to offer Internet access.
But for the majority of consumers using a cash machine is all about speed. Therefore, anything that slows consumers down is likely to be irritating. To avoid this, providers must ensure that services are offered as effectively as possible. Even so, it remains to be seen whether consumers will be able to see cash machines as anything other than a source of cash.
Related research: Datamonitor, Off-site and enhanced functionality ATMs (BFFS0175)
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