Destined for the Scrapheap? (The ATM in 50 Years)

The 27th of June marked the 50th anniversary of the ATM, which got us thinking, where will it be 50 years from now?

Despite some corners consigning the ATM to little more than a museum piece in 50 years, evidence suggests otherwise, with ATM numbers increasing across the Western world.

RBR, a research and consultancy firm, demonstrated in February that the number of withdrawals had increased globally in every region, and particularly in APAC and the Middle East/ Africa.

The past few years have also seen major increases in investment into ATM technology from big banks. With a focus on efficiency, banks are looking to cut costs by outsourcing work that was traditionally done in-branch, to the ATM.

Customers like the convenience of ATMs, and according to a 2016 study by the Federal Reserve, rated the availability of fee-free ATMs as the second most convenient offering at retail banks (after mobile technology). A report by JP Morgan Chase revealed teller transactions fell by 25% between 2014 and 2016. Customers now use ATMs for 90% of withdrawals and 60% of deposits, and there’s high demand for even more features to be readily available.

What we see as a consequence, is the rise of the Smart ATM.

The Smart ATM

The UK and US market are leading the charge with smart technology. Numerous banks in the US have features whereby customers can access cash from ATMs using just their mobile app, while Barclays contactless ATMs in the UK provide another example of a technological approach to improving accessibility, as well as security. There have also been rumors around fingerprint access (akin to Apple’s Touch ID), or even a system of facial recognition. Banks are taking after major fintech companies in a race to modernize.

Personalisation is looking like the next major focus, with Bank of America redesigning their ATM interface so that it looks and operates like a smartphone app. Chase has also released ‘tablet-inspired’ eATMs at the company’s World Trade Center location.

Meanwhile, there is an impetus around increasing the functions an ATM can carry out. Santander customers in the UK can now deposit cash and cheques, as well as transfer money via their ATMs. Currently, 60% of the transactions performed by bank tellers can be done by ATMs. By 2018 that figure is expected to be 90%.[1]

It’s likely that sooner rather than later nearly all traditional branch roles will become facets of the Smart ATM. Banks want to consolidate and cut costs, while consumers value quick-access to banking facilities.

What’s evident is that rather than becoming a thing of the past, ATMs are going to become more secure, more accessible, and more important over the next 50 years.

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