Bankers are increasingly interested in installing automated teller devices on which customers can do everything but withdraw cash, according to a recent survey.
The strategy? To shift an increasing number of routine transactions to automated devices, without tying up customers in long lines for cash withdrawals.
Many banks are installing automated teller machines that dispense postage stamps and exact cash for paychecks in addition to dispensing cash withdrawals.
Concern over Delays
But some banks are worried that if they add too many new functions to the ATM, customers will grow tired of the delays and go back into the branch to get cash from a teller.
The MAC network, which is operated by Electronic Payment Services Inc., based in Wilmington, Del., is the pioneer in deploying self-service terminals. Fleet Financial Corp. is close to deploying similar terminals.
MAC has deployed 13 terminals, called MAC Info, that look like ATMs and are at ATM sites.
They have touch screens and keyboards that allow customers to transfer funds, look at balances and print out statements, reorder checks, and change their addresses. But the machines do not dispense cash.
Next month, MAC will begin to install software that will enable the terminals to handle stop payments and add companies to a personal bill payment list.
A customer will be able to set up a transaction, in which he deposits a paycheck, pays a Visa and a utility bill, and draws out some cash on the terminal, then go to an ATM and execute it.
Some of the terminals have as much as 3,000 transactions per month, said Paul H. Weston, director of specialized sales at MAC.
"A lot of people have focused on printing statements on ATMs, but you can create a through-put problem, and then you have to put in two ATMs," Mr. Weston said. He added that the MAC Info machines, which are supplied by NCR Corp. and Interbold, cost about $20,000, or half what a typical ATM costs.
About a quarter of the top 150 financial institutions said they are considering or have considered installing these non-cash-dispensing ATMs, according to a study by Payment Systems Inc., a research and consulting firm based in Tampa, Fla.
In telephone interviews with 85 of the top 150 financial institutions in the United States in terms of asset size, Payment Systems found that 47% were considering installing self-service terminals. Of those, 10% said they were rolling the terminals out, and 8% said they had a pilot program under way.
Another 22% said they were still studying the idea, 31% said they had made no decision, and 29% said they had decided not to pursue it.
And, in a survey of consumer behavior, the company found that of 2,500 households contacted by telephone in April and May, 72% said they would use self-service terminals for routine account services, including funds transfers, statement printouts, check reordering, address changes, or opening accounts.
However, Neil Chambliss, vice president of Payment Services, cautioned that the numbers probably were optimistic. Consumers are more likely to say they will use automated services than to actually use them, he said.