• Tellerex

ITM vs ATM: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Oct 5

Currently, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing is fundamentally changing banking practices. Numerous banks and credit unions have altered or closed their branches to reduce the chance of transmission. Consequently, the topic of ITMs and ATMs is seeing a surge of interest as institutions emphasize remote service channels.


Many reports have suggested that social distancing measures may be necessary for more than a year—enough time to test and administer a vaccine. At Tellerex, we want to see your institution continue to support and serve its customers during this time, and we will do whatever we can to help. We hope this blog helps you understand and weigh your options going forward.


Read on to learn more about the differences between ITMs and ATMs—and which one might be better for your needs.



ATM vs ITM Basics


Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs, have been around since the 1960s. It took a few decades before they saw broad market adoption, but now they’re ubiquitous. Currently, there are millions of ATMs deployed worldwide.


Recently, Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) have also hit the market. They’re like ATMs, but they feature expanded functions and face-to-face chat capabilities with tellers.


ATMs provide both basic cash-dispensing services as well as advanced functions, including:


· Check depositing

· Account information access

· Fund transfers

· Marketing of relevant products


These are valuable services—especially as banks and credit unions move to branchless banking—but they don’t offer the same level of service that in-branch interactions have. Tellers and bankers often guide customers through more complex transactions such as loan applications and payments, opening accounts, or canceling payments or services.


Although some ATMs may support more complex transactions, most ATMs are less feature rich. In some cases, this may be an issue.



Where ATMs Might Fall Short


Many of the banking features on ATMs can be more easily accomplished online or on a phone. Plus, mobile and online banking let you do way more, such as open new accounts, apply for loans, and ask for support. Some apps even allow for live online chat with an account representative.


That means that the key differentiator for ATMs is that they deal with cash. Location-wise, they can’t beat a computer or smartphone. But if you need cash, then no online or mobile banking app can help.


Unfortunately, that means that ATMs are otherwise less convenient for many banking services. That’s where ITMs come in.



Introducing ITMs


ITMs add a video terminal to the usual ATM architecture. The screen allows users to speak with a teller. That may not seem like much, but it does enable a few functions that ATMs and smartphones can’t offer.


First, ID verification is a little easier through an ITM. If your credit card gets lost or stolen, the teller can verify the user’s identity with a driver’s license or other ID.


Also, ITMs can dispense different amounts of cash. Whereas ATMs tend to deal only in large bills, ITMs can offer bills of any denomination. They can also dispense change.


Most importantly though, ITMs provide the conveniences of an actual teller. That opens up a lot of potential banking services that you couldn’t otherwise get from an ATM. And, although you might be able to get those same services online or through a mobile app, having a teller there as a guide can be very helpful.


More importantly, access to a teller through an ITM ensures that customers can get the full in-branch experience. That includes discussing loan and credit options and applications, requesting payment deferrals, and accessing other critical services that may be difficult to navigate on a touchscreen.



ATM vs ITM Conclusions


ITMs offer expanded services, guidance and a friendly smile, which can be really nice. However, they require a lot more work from the financial institution. Between ensuring convenient hours and getting scale, ITMs certainly have their work cut out for them. Nevertheless, ITMs offer a compelling alternative to in-branch banking.


ATMs also feature stiff competition from online banking, mobile banking, and the push for cashless payments. However, they are less complicated and require less effort from financial institutions. More importantly, they are a proven, dependable, and more cost-effective option for expanding service channels outside of the branch.


ATMs certainly still have a place in the future. ITMs might, but their necessity depends more on what your institution needs. Does it need a robust alternative to an open or nearby branch? If yes, then ITMs are worth consideration.



Additional Reading


Tellerex is committed to leveraging our knowledge and experience to reduce ATM expenses, increase reliability, and accelerate a contribution to your company’s bottom line. To date, we’ve helped save clients over $5M in ATM-related expenses and operation cost reductions.

Tellerex can help your financial institution transition with several ATM-related issues. First, we can provide high-quality refurbished models in a matter of weeks. Second, we can simplify supply chain logistics to maximize speed and reduce cost. Finally, we can help you with fleet and ATM upgrades through our ATM lifecycle management solutions. Please contact us to learn more.


Subscribe to our blog for insights, information, and news in the ATM industry. Or follow the links below to see what’s new.


How Might ATMs Engage Users in the Future?


The Role ATMs Play in Branch Automation Transformation

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