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Money & Culture

ATMs as Tellers, Brokerages for Cash: How Do We Bank?

April 29, 2015
Waiting for the ATM

Technology, that highly productive goose that keeps laying golden eggs, has turned banking from a weekly chore into a task that’s as easy as snapping a photo. Yet it turns out that many consumers still prefer to return to their neighborhood bank and tap on the old reliable ATM, which now has cutting-edge tech tools for real-time banking.

Yes, the majority of us—some 87%—use some form of technology to communicate with our financial institutions. But 87% of that group has also visited a bank and spoken to a teller at least once in the last 12 months. Some 75% use ATMs, and 74% use computers for online banking, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2015 Consumers and Mobile Financial Services report.

What’s equally important is that the financial institution is no longer just a bank in the traditional sense; it includes select brokerages that let us draw down cash or link bill-paying from stock-trading and other accounts.

The report notes that although consumers are gradually adopting mobile banking, they’re doing it while holding tight to more traditional branch and ATM channels. What’s more, that’s happening across all age groups, not just the old fogies you might expect.

As a result, the ATM—which bankers have long carped were terribly underused computers because of their potential and ubiquity—is finally getting more of a workout. Banks are tailoring their systems to provide ATM customers with the same immersive experience they get with their computers, smartphones, and tablets, but with tangible rewards.

Not only can we get cash from ATMs in more than $10s and $20s—some even offer up change—but the machines are also being deployed to deposit checks, transfer funds, convert currency, and produce traveler’s checks. They can be used to pay bills, pay your friends, or send money to your kids in college. You can schedule a withdrawal on your phone and activate it when you get to an ATM. Many are interactive, with two-way video for customers to connect with offsite experts who can open an account or authorize a check or over-limit withdrawal.

Meanwhile, tellers are being retrained to assist you in getting loans and mortgages, opening IRAs or retirement accounts, and other personal banking tasks.

To be sure, younger consumers are adapting to mobile banking technology in far higher numbers than their parents and grandparents, but the ATM is still holding strong—for everyone. A handful of banks are offering cardless ATMs, letting customers use their smartphones to withdraw cash, and get cash rewards from the ATM. And the future holds much more.

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Access, spend, and manage your money with a debit card, free ATM withdrawals, free check writing, and free online bill pay. Did you catch that? Free.

The information presented is for informational and educational purposes only. Content presented is not an investment recommendation or advice and should not be relied upon in making the decision to buy or sell a security or pursue a particular investment strategy.

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