Turning ATMs into Automated Thinking Machines

Arguably, the invention of the ATM by IBM nearly 40 years ago was one of the greatest moments in the history of modern consumer banking. These ATMs revolutionized the way we thought about bank tellers and forever changed the way we spend money. With a simple swipe of a plastic card, you could have countless $20 bills in your hand within seconds. As we rapidly transition from a cash-based society to an all-digital, card-less and cash-less society, will the ATM also transform into an Automated Thinking Machine, capable of doing more than process plastic bank cards and dispense cash?


When Citibank unveiled the Bank of the Future in New York City nearly six months ago, the ATM lobby was the centerpiece of the branch. There were interactive sales walls with touchscreen capabilities, 24/7 video chat stations, media display walls and even a free Wi-Fi lounge. When you checked in to the branch via Foursquare, an internal marketing screen showed who else was at the bank at the same time. In short, the ATM became a shared multi-media experience.

This could be a sign of more innovation to come. Thanks to design firm IDEO, there’s already an iPad-powered ATM in Spain. There’s also a socially-conscious ATM that enables people to donate part of their insidious ATM bank fees to charity. In the UK, it’s now possible to accept charitable donations directly via ATM. In the US, when people were looking for ways to contribute to the tsunami aid efforts in Japan, Wells Fargo collected more than $1 million dollars in 10 days for the American Red Cross – entirely via ATM.

But let’s push the envelope. Who said the ATM had to be relegated to financial services? How about an ATM that collects e-Waste? Instead of inserting checks into the machine, you would insert your old electronics and receive a digital receipt. Or how about filling your medical prescriptions via ATM? Trendhunter recently profiled 12 awesome ATMs – some of them so outlandish that they would appear to be science fiction - like slang-speaking ATMs.

Building on the vision for the Bank of the Future and the notion of the digitally-connected ATM, financial services firms have an opportunity to transform the ATM into something much more than we could ever imagine. Once plastic cards and cash become obsolete, what will happen to the ATM? By that time, the ATM has the potential to evolve into an Automated Thinking Machine, available 24/7 to anybody who happens to be in the neighborhood.

[image: IDEO's Future of Self-Service Banking]

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