3 Things Your ATM Could Soon Be Doing Besides Dispensing Cash

Almost all of the more than 400,000 ATMs in the U.S. are used for the most basic of banking purposes — withdrawing cash and making deposits. But fewer people are using cash and it’s now often easier to deposit a check (in those rare instances when you receive one) via smartphone than it is to trek to the ATM. In order for the machines to survive (and someday play their part in the inevitable robot uprising), they must diversify.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an in-depth look at a number of ways in which financial institutions and tech companies are trying to provide services — some of which have nothing to do with banking — that could keep the ATM relevant in the online age. Here are a few that we found interesting.

1. Cash for Your Phone

There are plenty of services that will let you trade in your old smartphone for cash or credit, but many of them require that you mail in your device, resulting in a delay and the possibility that the phone could be lost or chewed up in shipping. Some wireless companies will let you do the trade-in at one of their stores, but then you’re going to get the hard sell from staffers on new devices and services.

The folks at Outerwall (formerly known as Coinstar) recently purchased a phone-recycling kiosk business called ecoATM, which could give more consumers an automated option for when they want to get cash for their device.

2. Loan Applications

Many lenders have automated loan applications on their websites, and ATM biggie NCR says there is no reason the ATM couldn’t also be “a platform to print out a mortgage application, sign it, scan and complete it without ever having to be in front of a loan officer.”

The CEO of Lake State Credit Union tells the Star-Tribune that it is using ATMs with video tellers to bolster its loan business.

“We signed a fair amount of new membership as a result of just the interactive technology machine,” said the CEO. “There’s no question that it has been a component of what is driving new business.”

3. Virtual Branches

It’s no secret that many of the larger banks have been shutting down branches (or at the very least failing to open new branches) in neighborhoods and towns that are already underserved by financial institutions. The use of video tellers could allow for banks to offer many of the services a consumer would get at a traditional bank without the institution having to take the risk or deal with the expense of opening a new branch at a time when banks are looking to pare down their retail footprints.

The new ATMs: Soon they won’t be just for cash anymore [StarTribune.com]

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