The automated teller machine is now ubiquitous and can perform most of the functions you would visit a bank branch for: withdrawing cash, transferring money, making deposits. One thing that has really never changed about ATMs is what they dispense. Cash is cash: untraceable, lightweight, and nobody charges you any fees to use it. How boring and unprofitable.
What if ATMs dispensed prepaid debit cards? This seems like a terrible and counter-intuitive idea to us, but it’s real. You can already make your withdrawal in card form at a few credit unions in Washington, D.C. and Arizona, and more big banks are prepping to introduce the technology to their ATMs soon.
The machines will still stock piles of cash, of course. The prepaid cards are just a bonus for customers who want to give gifts or who don’t have a good credit history and need a card to make online purchases or something similar. The banks get your regular business, and get to collect the sweet, sweet fees that come along with prepaid debit cards: card-issuance fees, transaction fees, and so on.
Coming Soon: ATMs That Dispense Prepaid Cards [Consumer Reports]