By Shaw, Tony
Independent Banker , Vol. 50, No. 2
Since their introduction in the 1970s, ATMs have delivered fast and easy convenience on which today's cash-- hungry bank customers have come to rely. But today's ATMs are becoming more than just simple cash-dispensing and deposit-taking devices. They are becoming feature-rich machines that are quickly transforming how banks and their customers use them.
Today's ATMs can have a range of existing and up-and-coming features that can make them more profitable for your bank and even more useful to your customers. Consider a few ways that ATMs are expanding beyond their traditional cash-dispensing roles.
Broaden Your Reach
Banks are using branded ATMs to leverage their established COMMUnity name recognition and gain exposure beyond the reach of their branches. This strategy makes more sense now than ever before, because today's ATMs can be deployed for a fraction of the up-front and ongoing costs of the ATMs of yesteryear.
For instance, ATMs can be installed in local convenience stores and gas stations for about one-fifth the cost of implementing drive-up ATMs. These smaller, less expensive ATMs can also be placed in off-premise locations such as office buildings, movie theaters, restaurants or other venues.
ATMs that use wireless communica-- tion technology can extend your bank's reach even further. Not only are wireless transactions faster and cheaper, they allow portable ATMs to be placed just about anywhere, from trains to performing arts centers. A bank can place an ATM at a county fair one day and at a football game the next, bringing services to customers instead of the other way around.
Wireless technology also allows banks to fine tune the location of their ATMs for maximum use, making services available where and when customers need them. If an ATM isn't getting the desired amount of traffic, it can be placed across the hall or down the street, without the cost of moving a telephone line.
Cozy with Customers
In the near future, so-called smart ATMs will be available that operate with open networking and communications, like the technology used by the Internet. Smart ATMs can readily communicate with databases and other back-end services, opening a world of possibilities for using ATMs to cross sell your bank's customer.
To use ATMs successfully as a sophisticated sales tool, banks must first consolidate their customer information into a centralized customer database-a substantial but potentially worthwhile undertaking. Once the customer information is housed in one place, a smart ATM can communicate with the database. In this way, the ATM will know how frequently a customer withdraws cash, whether a customer has a credit card with your bank and what a customer's savings balance is.
Armed with this vital customer information, the ATM becomes an automated sales tool that can tailor product promotions to individual customers in targeted and sophisticated ways. For example, depending on criteria the bank determines, the ATM could offer a customer a loan on the spot. Or, if the customer has a savings balance of more than $50,000, the ATM could suggest investing in a money market fund and provide information about offerings available from your bank. …