Thanks to advances in technology, cash machines are about to get a whole lot smarter – and that can only be a good thing.
The humble high street cash point is a familiar sight up and down the country, and it’s been that way for 50 years – ever since On the Buses’ Reg Varney publicly withdrew £10 from Barclays’ very first ATM.
But for all its technical wizardry, it’s starting to feel a little stale in the tech-obsessed 21st century.
Not only do they typically offer only very basic services, but they’re also susceptible to fraud, with criminals tampering with genuine ATMs to bilk us out of our hard-earned cash.
When you factor in contactless payments and mobile banking online, it’s safe to say that cash machines leave a lot to be desired. That’s not to say it’s all over for cash – Ron Delnevo, of the ATM Industry Association, said:
‘We are not seeing the use of cash falling away dramatically. The closure of bank branches is actually an opportunity for new-style smart ATMs, which will be the ‘touch point’ for you and your money on the high street and in shopping centres. We will be able to carry out 99% of the transactions we do in bank branches at ATMs instead.’
But despite us making 2.1 billion withdrawals in 2016, totalling £129 billion, industry experts are keen to showcase the newest ATM technology that will fit more easily into our ‘always on the go’ lives at their annual conference.
It’s annoying, isn’t it, when you nip to the cash point for, say, £40 – and the machine dispenses it all in 5s and 10s. This isn’t what you asked for!
Well, it is, but it’s not how you would’ve asked for it. Enter the personalised cash point. Personalisation is everywhere these days, from social media profiles to mobile phones, so it’s no wonder that ATMs are getting in on the act.
ACI Worldwide, who develop software for cash machines, reckons that soon we’ll have mobile apps which will allow users to ‘pre-order’ withdrawals, specifying the denominations they’d like, then pick up the cash from the ATM.
With security placing high on the list of concerns over ATMs, many manufacturers are looking for new ways to keep the fraudsters at bay. And it’ll all possible thanks to you.
In the future, experts believe we’ll be getting into our accounts using a combination of biometrics, fingerprints and facial recognition. All of these are unique to you, so it should ensure it’s only us accessing our money.
Many high-end computers already use much of this technology for secure logins – think Windows Hello, for instance – so transferring it, in theory, isn’t difficult.
What will be trickier will be rolling this out on a wide scale (‘Attention: All users must report to their local bank branch for fingerprinting’) , while ensuring a whole extra layer of security, since there’s a world of difference between logging on to check Facebook and making a £100 withdrawal.
It’s not just your old milk cartons that get recycled these days. Cash machine insiders are now looking at ways to ‘recycle’ cash – it already happens in Russia, for example.
The way it works is this: Small businesses with cash machines installed on the premises can deposit money into the machines, rather than relying on security companies to come and refill the machine on a regular basis.
The end result being that it’s cheaper and safer for those smaller businesses to run ATMs. But despite the fact that Link, the ATM company, has released a ‘universal cash deposit transaction (UCDT),’no bank has yet signed up for the scheme.
Even though the UCDT ‘reduces the need for cash deliveries and also gives the public and businesses a way of conveniently depositing and withdrawing cash, without the need for access to that fast-disappearing species – the bank branch,’
Speaking of branch closures, many in the industry believe that it’ll be ATMs that save the day – which makes sense, really, given the role that technology plays in our lives today.
So, what we’ll end up seeing is an ATM that can do everything you’d normally do at your local bank, from depositing cheques to speaking to bank advisors.
Already we’re seeing cash machines that can create debit cards, saving people from having to wait for one to be delivered in the post, so expect that sort of technology to roll out even further.
Indeed, Ron Delnevo, of the ATM Industry Association, believes that these new all-in-one ATMs:
‘will help maintain and improve the social and economic viability of villages, small towns and suburban neighbourhoods, all of which are under threat of becoming bank branch ‘deserts’.’
Contactless and card-free
The cash card. When you think about it, it’s actually a pretty out-dated concept in a world where much of our banking is now done online.
Needless to say, then, that one of the most exciting developments for ATMs is the introduction of contactless and card-free cash machines.
Barclays are already piloting a contactless scheme, which sees users simply touch the cash point with their card before inputting their PIN, and NatWest are already looking at using mobile apps to withdraw money.
Like any kind of authenticator app, it’ll deliver a secure code to your phone, which you can use at the ATM without ever having to insert your card.