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The extinction of ATM and POS?

I attended a course some months back about developing a mobile proposition. It was suggested that with the growth of mobile payments and banking, the importance of existing “older” channels would decline.

Whilst in terms of sheer numbers, that may be true, this shouldn’t be read to mean that channels such as ATM and POS will disappear - far from it.

From my experience I see banks, processors and retailers all finding ways to increase the use and value of these existing channels.

ATMs and POS devices represent a large investment and this is not simply going to be thrown away, like many of us do with our old mobiles when upgrading to our fancy new smartphones.

We’ve seen initiatives such as “corresponsal” banking that let retailers add value for customers and increasing the use of existing POS devices, whilst at the same time, driving benefit for the banks and other financial institutions.

In much the same way, I’m seeing banks and processors find new and innovative ways of using ATMs. They are an ideal device for having a conversation with a customer. They may seem clunky, slow and old to the new smartphone generation, but they are familiar, proven and secure.

ATMs can be used for much more than withdrawing cash and topping up your mobile. The list of transaction types covered by some can go on for pages. They also provide a great mechanism for marketing – just as McDonalds replied that it was in the business of real estate and not selling hamburgers – the banks and processors are also realising that they are in the business of engaging with customers through marketing, sales and conversations, rather than simply letting them withdraw cash from their bank accounts. ATMs are the banks “real estate” and they are predominantly positioned to be conveniently used by customers. As they say – Location! Location! Location!

I hear the smartphone crowd say “what could be more convenient than a mobile”? Perhaps nothing, but not everyone can afford expensive smartphones and their network costs. Also smartphone companies have still to solve the “flat half the time” problem and finally - not everyone wants one.

Technology and the world are changing. Mobile, contactless and “the next big thing” will no doubt play important roles. Don’t, however, think for a moment that the existing channels will die out. You either evolve or become extinct – and they are evolving.

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