Fancy new ATMs could doom branch banking
New machines are offering videoconferencing with tellers, lottery tickets, fingerprint authentication and even loan applications.
Your ATM will soon be more than just a cash dispenser. In fact, financial executives and analysts say the technology may soon be able to replace some human bank tellers and bank branches.
There are roughly 425,000 ATMs in the U.S., and many of those have already gotten an upgrade -- or soon will.
On Thursday, Citibank (C) told MarketWatch it will unveil new ATMs in the U.S. that "remember" customer preferences (like language), offer on-page scrolling (as on an iPad), let you check your balance without leaving the screen you're on, and feature instructions that are more conversational; the new ATMs were piloted in New York City last year and will begin rolling out in other locales in February.
The move is part of a larger evolution of the stalwart machines. In the past few years, Chase (JPM) and PNC (PNC) introduced ATMs that dispense $1 and $5 bills; Citibank and Wells Fargo (WFC) began letting you get an email receipt of your balance rather than a paper one; and Bank of America (BAC) and a number of credit unions began experimenting with video conferencing with a live person right on the ATM rather than keeping employees in every branch.
Banks say they're adding these kinds of features to add convenience for consumers -- a convenience that may mean that you really no longer need to wait in line to see a bank teller.
Mark Gilder, director of distribution strategy at Citibank, says that while customers certainly want to speak to a bank representative on big topics like loans, they like the efficiency of the ATM for other features. The ATM is becoming full-service, he says: "We think at least 85 percent of the things you do at the teller, you can do at the ATM." (Citibank is experimenting with video conferencing in Asia, as well as fingerprint authentication and applying for loans via ATM.)
It makes financial sense for banks to do this: "The whole point is to drive down operating expenses," says Ben Mazzotta, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Business in the Global Context at Tufts University. Already, at least one credit union has added ATMs that do video conferencing in the place of tellers in certain branches, which means you speak to a person via video on the ATM rather than in person.
While teller jobs certainly won’t dry up completely -- people like talking to tellers for large transactions like mortgages, and some tellers may do videoconferencing -- we may see more of these jobs disappear, as industry experts expect the functionality of ATMs to become more useful and, in many cases, teller-like in the future.
David Tente, a spokesperson for the ATM Industry Association, says that he thinks that in addition to having video conferencing capabilities, ATMs will be able to better facilitate person-to-person transfers and other types of payments (many already let you make loan payments on-site), spit out cashiers' checks, and allow you to make transactions without inserting a card (possibly by standing near the ATM with your mobile phone).
To be sure, you can already do most of this on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer -- so why, you may ask, will you need an fuller-featured ATM? While 80 percent of consumer spending in the U.S. is already cashless, according to a September 2013 by MasterCard, we're still a long way off from a cashless society; and roughly 80 percent of ATM transactions are to deposit and withdraw cash.
What's more, the ATMs can -- and could more often in the future -- dispense physical goods to consumers. Already, some ATMs dispense stamps, lottery tickets and gift cards, says Tente. And Better ATM Services CEO Todd Nuttall, whose company enables ATMs to dispense prepaid gift cards, says that he's been approached by transit authorities to dispense their cards via ATMs, as maintaining all those kiosks for subway, rail and other tickets is both a bottleneck and pricey.
"You can deposit checks using your mobile phone, but it still doesn't replace the ATM for physical products like cash and cards," he says. That's why, he says, ATMs may soon dispense more products.
They may also be used by more people in the future: Euromonitor predicts that ATM transactions will go from about $632 billion in 2013 to $874 billion in 2018. One of the reasons for this growth, says Mazzotta, is that payments from employers and governments to more and more workers will happen via debit card (rather than physical check); those people will need access to ATMs to get this money and move it around.
"ATM use will rise," he says. And so too will its functionality.
More from MarketWatch
The Great March Towards Total Technological Automation continues.
Do we REALLY need all of this? Is this what the people REALLY want? Or is it just being jammed down our throats by Big Business?
What will we do for employment when the machines do nearly everything for us?
SkyNet is just around the corner.....
I don't put my trust in machines and all this technology. A lot of damage has been done. ATM's are not always located in safe places. It is a lot to think about because too many things [machines] identity theft and hacking is too prevalent these days. Nothing is private any more, or safe.
I can just see those spanish only speaking customers at Bank of America lining up to talk with a teller and hand the machine $9,000 or ask for a $9,000 withdrawal. I am sure the crooks standing behind the guy will be tempted to rob him when the screen or teller on the screen says here is your $9,000 withdrawal. After all most of those badly speaking spanish guys handing the teller $9,000 are laundrying drug money.
I can see the line at the ATM machine becoming super long as tele tellers speaking broken english from Indian try to talk to customers speaking broken english but mostly spanish. You will probably ask for your balance and some guy in India gets $100,000 and you get the loan with an automatic payment from your account.
If you close out an account with some money on it will the teller machine just hand you $30,000 or write a cashiers check for $30,000 or that new banker's check for $30,000 which I do not know what the difference is but it's only $5 instead of $20 charge.
How will you keep the transactions from the person behind you at least now most banks have a line that is a few feet away from the tellers. But not so at ATM machines which is why most people leaving the bank get robbed coming from the ATM machine. -
Will Indian tele marketers soon have to learn spanish as well as english like the branch tellers around me??
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Like many companies this winter, the fast-food giant blamed a drop in same-store sales on the weather. But could its problems be bigger than a snowbank?
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.