Recent reports on the BBC and elsewhere have suggested the ATM is in terminal decline because of changing customer behaviour and a large number of ATMs may be switched off. David Smith, a top UK expert on self-service banking for Auriga argues this is simply not the case:
“It is no surprise to me that last December the UK set a new record for the amount of cash withdrawn from ATMS – the customer demand for easy access to cash is increasing, not decreasing. It has recently been highlighted in the media that the UK banks are dissatisfied with the preferential LINK fees that seem to favour independent ATM deployers over the banks. And it looks like the banks have a strong case. However, the suggestion that this disagreement among LINK members will result in a major culling of ATM machines is unlikely to happen. The underlying issue here is that this is a one-dimensional argument. Driving down operational costs is a right and sensible endeavour but new revenue generation options are too often ignored in a race to the bottom on cost savings.
2017 is the 50th anniversary of the ATM but there’s a risk that the industry is clinging on to outmoded legacy technologies that strangle the life out of consumer service innovation. There are countless examples outside of UK where the right software could rejuvenate existing ATMs and deliver much needed profits for every LINK member. What is needed is a wholesale mind-set change from the current position of offering very limited services and reducing operating cost as the single most important focus to a superior perspective of expanding revenue-generating consumer services with operating costs being only one management metric. So, rather than killing off the ATMs, LINK members should embrace how ATMs can become a much more powerful service platform for building customer loyalty that is integrated with, rather than superseded by, mobile and web banking. If we can achieve this change of mindset then there’s a truly bright future for ATMs and, to borrow the words of Mark Twain, news of their death may be greatly exaggerated.