[Dave Birch] I ought to be relatively easy to move ATM functionality to mobile phones, with the obvious exception of cash withdrawal. Why bother? Well, I read in the FT (25th February, page 12) that there are 2.4 billion visits to ATMs in Spain every and that a third of them do not involve withdrawing cash, which is why one of the banks in Spain in launching a mobile banking service to allow people to do ATM stuff (pay bills, mobile top-up, mini-statements, that sort of thing) on the handset. I was wondering if I would use such a function, and I’m not so sure.

Personally, I can’t ever remember using an ATM for anything except withdrawing cash and have no interest in visiting them to get mini-statements, advertisements for savings accounts or anything else. I do remember, some years ago, advising the Strategy Group in one of the U.K.’s big four banks about some issues to do with new technology and multi-channel access. At that time, one of the ideas they were considering — to persuade more people to use their ATMs — was to commission jokes from comedy writers so that you could opt to have a joke before your transaction. The marketing guys, naturally, didn’t know anything about queueing theory or Poisson distributions, so it didn’t take long before one of the operational analysts calculated that the bank would need to double the number of ATMs it provided into order to stop people from rioting when they popped round to an ATM to get some money out only to discover a queue snaking round the block. I’m with Jim Gaffigan on this one: if I go to the ATM and there’s even one person in front of me, I’m like “what is this, the Soviet Union?” and I move on.

This is, I have to say, one of least mad ideas I’ve heard about for ATMs recently. I have heard otherwise sane persons discussing allowing teenagers to download music from them, for example. These are all hallmarks of a tipping point on the horizon, aren’t they?

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

2 comments

  1. My guess is that ATM / banking behaviour is quite different in Spain than it is in the UK. They have 3 times as many ATMs per person than the UK, and about 5 times as many branches, which leads me to suspect that internet banking hasn’t really taken off in Spain. After all if you have an internet bank account why use a phone or ATM to get statements / pay bills?

  2. Not only is ATM behaviour different in Spain (due to the culture difference) but its bloody cold here. Going to an ATM in the UK is like using someone elses toilet. You want to get in and out ASAP. If the UK was bathed in glorious sunshine like Spain is generally and people moved at the same pace as the Spanish, I might be inclined to have a quick glance at my horoscope, download a tune for my son or maybe even take out some money.

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