Do ATMs have a place in the future of payments?

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Despite recent figures suggesting people expect to use less cash in the next decade, the ATM is still going strong. In fact, as Link’s figures showed last week, they are actually on the rise in the UK, and if one looks at the recent crop of machines, it becomes clear that they are doing all they can to stay relevant and convenient for consumers.

Adopting innovation

Not only are they on the rise, on an international scale they appear to be evolving and adopting technologies that were meant to make them and the product they dispense redundant.

At the end of August, reports emerged which said that a digital currency exchange was planning to install 1000 bitcoin ATMs throughout Greece. A natural reaction after popularity for the cryptocurrency soared during the country’s economic meltdown.

This is the sort of strategy that ATMs have to adopt in order to survive wave after wave of technological innovations. By adopting the technology that could potentially  wipe out the very product they dispense, ATMs remain current and up-to-speed with consumers’ desires and habits.

Biometrics

Biometric technology is another good example and exhibits the ATM’s potential versatility. Last month, a Taiwanese bank was reportedly trialling a new ATM that uses several biometric verification procedures such as facial recognition technology and finger vein scanning.

Staying in Asia, earlier this summer a Chinese research institute reportedly created the first facial recognition ATM.

This shows that not only are ATMs integrating technologies that could pose direct threats to their existence, they are adopting seemingly unrelated technologies and using them to ameliorate the consumer experience – after all, it’s the consumer who will ultimately decide what technology is convenient and what technology should be trashed.

Evolving

This tumultuous and technologically vibrant period is seemingly bringing out the creativity in ATM companies. In America, Diebold recently announced the launch of a new range of high-performance ATMs that suggest ATMs are not only adopting other technologies but also independently evolving their own traditional features.

Diebold’s new ATMs have features such as lower secondary screens that present more sensitive information – their positioning and design makes it harder for prying eyes to see the information.

Finance management

The company’s ATMs also possess the deposit feature that crops up in many ATMs around the world. ATMs are now seemingly encroaching upon land traditionally held by Banks – finance management. Why go to a bank branch, which are reportedly on the decline, when there is an ATM around the corner that allows you to deposit money into your account?

Future in payments?

It all depends on how the consumer responds. If the ATM keeps adopting newer technologies such as Bitcoin and biometrics, there is no reason for it become irrelevant – unless the rise of contactless and mobile definitively makes cash inconvenient.

Even then ATMs may survive in some shape or form. Rather than dispensing cash they can be upgraded to dispense information: people can check their balances, transfer funds etc. In order to stay competitive ATMs would have to have technology that allows them to provide real-time information.

Ultimately, as long as ATMs are seen as convenient and reliable in the eyes of the consumers, they will have a future in payments.

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