Are ATMs Relics of the Past?

Are ATMs Relics of the Past?

When automated teller machines first arrived on the market years ago, using them was like magic.  Put in a card, take out the money, and have immediate cash in your pocket.  It was kind of like going to a money tree.

With the rapid advance of debit cards, automated teller machines are quickly becoming historical relics.  If consumers want money they simply get cash back at point of sale.  There’s absolutely no reason to pay a surcharge to get cash.  Money back at point of sale in incurs no charges.  While getting money out of an automatic teller machine is means expensive fees.

But, old ideas are hard to die.  Manufactures of automated teller machines are adding new features and functions hope that these will increase the use of machines and create new profit centers.  For example, manufacturers are now adding check imaging stations on automated teller machines so that consumers can put in a check and have it immediately converted to a digital electronic file for deposit in the bank.

On the surface, this seems to be a good idea.  People will go ahead and put in their checks and have the conversion done at the automatic teller machine.  But is it really beneficial to consumers?

Check imaging is certainly the way of the future.  But, banks are already providing check scanners free to businesses.  What first started out as free check imagers to major corporations, has now trickled down so that even small businesses are getting free check imaging equipment from the bank.

Within a very short time, check imaging technology will be so inexpensive that ordinary consumers will be able to submit checks for clearing right from their own home computers.  And check imagers are now no longer needed because people can use their iPhone to take a picture of the check for deposit.  There will be no reason in the world for the consumer to ever go to a bank automated teller machine to do anything.  All transactions can be handled right from the consumer’s home computer.

For years automated teller machines were cash cows for the companies that placed them in the field.  Instead of looking for a new way to dress up an old idea whose time has passed, it is time for those companies to move on to the electronic age and to give consumers new innovations that will help their lives rather than just trying to preserve income streams for companies that are already gone the way of the horse and buggy.

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