The Point

The ATM at 50: Think Outside the Box

Aug  22 
Brenda Waggoner  Senior Writer 

Fifty years ago, the ATM revolutionized financial services, changing consumer expectations and spending habits by introducing people to the ease and speed of 24/7 self-service money management. No longer tied to bankers' hours, consumers had ready access to cash whenever and wherever there was an ATM.

ATMs remain busy places. Consumers made approximately 5.8 million ATM withdrawals in 2015 and the amount withdrawn per transaction is trending upward, according to a 2016 Federal Reserve study. Expectations & Experiences: Household Finances, a recent quarterly consumer trends survey by Fiserv, found cash is still among the most frequently used payment methods for U.S. households.

Once simply a reliable and trusted way to get cash, the ATM is evolving to meet consumers' changing needs while also providing key benefits for financial institutions.

ATM Innovations Enhance the Customer Experience

Cardless cash options offer the ability to easily access funds when a debit card isn't available. When a card is lost or stolen, cardless cash offers interim access while people wait for replacement cards. Consumers also like the convenience when they've left a purse, wallet or even a card at home. And new accountholders can go straight from opening an account to getting cash at an ATM without a wait for their new cards – a win for consumers and financial institutions as new cards are quickly put to use.

Whether consumers use a large national bank or a small credit union, they may have the same spending patterns or interest in digital banking – and the same expectations for secure access to capabilities such as cardless cash. Once offered only to larger financial institutions, the service is now available to smaller financial institutions.

Once simply a reliable and trusted way to get cash, the ATM is evolving to meet consumers' changing needs while also providing key benefits for financial institutions.

ATMs are transforming the branch experience in other key ways. Interactive teller machines (ITMs) enable people to withdraw cash in denominations of their choice, receive coins, make a payment on a bank loan, deposit checks – essentially anything that can be accomplished at a teller window – with the help of remote tellers available 24/7 via video. People will likely spend more time at these more interactive machines, which makes a branch lobby an ideal location for ITMs.

ATM Innovations Provide Key Benefits for Financial Institutions

New advances in technology help financial institutions manage their ATM networks in a seamless, automated fashion that includes cash availability and cost controls. Enhanced reporting capabilities give financial institutions easy access to information such as device and cash availability, incident routing, and real-time views into transactions and service issues. Financial institutions can choose their level of self-monitoring and reporting.

In addition, financial institutions can leverage ATM interactions to present personalized, targeted product offers and service messages to consumers. When cardholders use an ATM, they are a willing, captive audience. The messages, while building relationships and enhancing engagement with consumers, can strike a personal note, such as wishing someone happy birthday or offering some form of financial education.

ATMs also expand an institution's footprint, reach and brand. One machine per branch is history now.

Multiple ATMs can be found in many branch lobbies and beyond. By placing ATMs in stadiums, concert venues, convenience stores and other high-traffic areas, financial institutions ensure scores of people pass by their "branch" every day.

A Hub for Financial Services

Fifty years after the ATM's introduction, people are still using them. And when they do, they expect an intuitive, innovative experience that's easy, secure and convenient. Thanks to the continued evolution of capabilities, features and functionality, the ATM remains a hub for financial services.

What does the next 50 years have in store for the ATM? As our industry focuses on new ways to tie ATMs to the digital experience, look for continued out-of-the-box innovation. Electronic receipts, biometric authentication and using a smartphone to get cash are innovations cardholders may already expect. One thing is for sure: As long as there's a need for cash, the ATM will continue to play a key role in financial services and functionality will evolve in tandem with consumer expectations.