How Might ATMs Engage Users in the Future?
Updated: May 19
Increasingly, consumers prefer digital interaction with their financial institutions. Branch visits are becoming less and less common. How can ATMs continue to engage users and provide value in a rapidly changing world of financial technology?
The answer may be in changing the role of ATMs entirely. Here are a few ways that banks and credit unions can rethink their fleet strategy to meet new customer needs.
ATMs and Customer Experience
Most people prefer banking away from their branch. In fact, according to a study by the American Bankers Association, only 18% of people prefer in-branch banking. That means that other banking service channels must begin providing the same kind of customer experience that traditionally comes from in-person banking.
For many consumers, ATMs represent the only location-based interaction with their financial institution. So, it’s essential that ATMs maintain or improve convenience, engagement, and profit.
That’s no small task in today’s technological environment. ATM operational costs are increasing, yet there are fewer transactions per ATM, and ATM profitability isn’t as high as it used to be. Fortunately, ATMs bridge the gap between the physical and digital banking worlds. As such, there are multiple opportunities to rethink the role of ATMs in the future.
How ATMs Are Changing
ATMs already show increased functionality over their predecessors. Even the ITM vs ATM question fundamentally asks how best to turn what was once a mere cash dispenser into a customer relationship tool.
Now, as Windows-based ATMs become standard, ATMs have the chance to evolve. Here’s what that evolution looks like:
1. Quick-Touch Balance Peeks
Improved user interfaces make at-a-glance banking much easier. With quick-touch balance peeks, customers can review account balances without leaving the screen they’re on. This eliminates the need for confusing and time-consuming multi-screen navigation.
2. Simplified Screen Flows
Another way to improve the ATM user interface is to simplify and declutter everything. Eliminate unnecessary screens, submenus, and “Are You Sure?” prompts to provide a more streamlined and intuitive experience.
Additionally, adding shortcuts will reduce search and navigation time. Furthermore, on-page scrolling allows for faster and more convenient access to more information without requiring navigation to additional screens.
3. Cross-Channel Services
Traditionally, ATMs are used primarily for basic banking services such as deposits and withdrawals. However, smart ATMs offer far more banking options. In the future, expect your ATMs to support:
· Loan applications
· Bill payments
· Fund transfers to other customers
· Charity donations
· Mobile top ups
As ATMs evolve, they’ll drive user engagement through services traditionally reserved for in-branch (and occasionally online) banking.
4. Cardless Transactions
Unfortunately, debit cards are often lost, stolen, or simply left behind. When that happens, cardholders are typically cut off from valuable ATM services. However, cardless transaction capabilities could spell an end to that pain point.
With cardless transactions, users may request ATM access codes through their mobile banking app. This builds a robust digital banking ecosystem for users, and it allows financial institutions to tie together their various customer experience touchpoints.
5. Near Field Communication Card Support
Pulling out and inserting cards into ATMs is less convenient and secure than contactless capabilities. Customers with NFC cards can use them at ATMs to improve their experience and safety during transactions.
Additionally, barcode and NFC readers on ATMs makes it easier for financial institutions to deploy new applications and features that also use that technology. Imagine a cardless cash function in which a user’s smartphone serves as their debit card.
6. Customer Friendly Design
ATM design doesn’t stop at sleek, modern exteriors. Everything, from the UI, text prompts, and general language can be made clearer and more casual to adjust for changing user demographics and sensibilities.
7. Security and Biometrics
Consumer-facing security and privacy technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Biometric privacy features like fingerprint scanners, facial recognition, and voice verification offer drastic improvements over things like Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
Add in two-factor authentication, such as SMS or email sign-in, and customers can enjoy greater peace of mind when using ATMs.
8. Marketing Opportunities
ATMs present ideal marketing opportunities. Messaging and offers may be tailored toward particular regions, ATM locations, or even individual customers. Adding a new marketing site ensures brand reinforcement and visibility of pertinent financial offers—all for a reduced cost compared to traditional marketing channels.
Consumers no longer prefer in-branch banking, choosing instead to bank digitally. If financial institutions don’t adjust their ATM strategy to fit changing consumer habits, their ATMs will continue seeing declines in ATM revenue and profitability.
However, emerging technologies hold many opportunities in the ATM space. These opportunities, such as those listed above, can turn ATMs into a valuable and relevant service channel for customers.