I was asked recently to predict the future for ATMs (Auto Teller Machines) and the services they will provide. I approached this by looking back at what has driven the development of the ATM hardware and software we see today. My conclusion is that mass
market technologies that have enabled ATMs to lower the cost of current their operation or reduce levels of card fraud as well as moving banking transactions from the branch teller to the ATM itself.
An example of each of these are:
1. Deploying thermal printers reducing the need for ink ribbons and mechanical impact printers.
2. EMV card support to reduce counterfeit card usage at ATMs.
3. Mini statement service providing more account information than just balances and reducing customers asking staff for transaction histories in branch.
We are now seeing the deployment of a generation of ATM’s accepting contactless connected payment devices (not just cards) with advancing cash recycling potentially exploiting new machine-readable note technologies. Both these technologies fit the mass
market technology model. Contactless technologies will make ATM transactions faster and easier for customers with the additional benefit of more reliable ‘Solid State’ hardware. The deployment of machine readable notes will make cash recycling more reliable,
simpler and more convenient for customers.
Contactless ATMs I believe will be a platform that will support the emerging technologies of Crypto Value Tokens / Smart Paper ‘Cash’ as well as mobile based biometric based customer authentication at the ATM. However, with this generation of ATMs we will
start to see cash usage fall in most markets. This is due to increased use of contactless payments, displacing cash use and mobile banking applications become customers personal access point for banking services in these markets.
Looking into the future I still see people wanting some of features of cash such as a physical representation of value that can be transfered. I foresee the next generation of ATMs dispensing general purpose ‘Cash / Currency’ tokens that work alongside personal
devices that manage the value loaded on the token. These ATMs as well as offering deposit and recycling services will also support a process to remove one generation of tokens from circulation and dispense one with increased security features just like cash
Further in to the future as technologies such as 3D printing continue to develop machines that can manufacture the value token, dispense and finally recycle these physical value tokens back to its raw materials may become the ATM of the future. This type
of technology will create machines where value tokens are just one product that is created and recycled from a list of consumer products made from similar raw materials. I see the future as more Star Trek ‘Replicator’ machine on the high street rather than
the ATM we see on our high street.
Only time will tell if I am correct or payments become fully dematerialised with physical tokens of value and thus ATMs becoming obsolete.