THE AUTOMATED teller machine has become an indispensable part of consumer banking since its introduction a little more than two decades ago. It's a success story that provides an excellent model for financial institutions seeking to understand how customers react to new technologies and the potential those technologies hold. From its infancy as a branch add-on to today's incarnation as a strategic source for fee income, ATMs are a critical component in any institution's strategy for success and growth.

By contrasting the ATM's recent history with that of the teller, who has been a banking fixture for several hundred years, one might be prompted to question why the teller hasn't become as rare as the thousand dollar bill. As Mark Twain once said, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," and so too are the predictions forecasting the end of branch tellers.

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