Morphis Inc., a Dallas payments-management software provider, has introduced a low-cost, online cash-forecasting tool that community banks and credit unions can use to manage their automated teller machines.

"Some banks and credit unions manage as few as one or two ATMs," Gary D. Faulkner, Morphis' executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said at the recent ATM Industry Association conference in Miami. Credit unions and community banks are a growing market for ATM cash-forecasting software, he said; Morphis signed up Lake Michigan Credit Union in Grand Rapids, Mich., as its first credit union client in January.

Financial companies' ATM managers are putting increased emphasis on cash forecasting, said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "Banks don't want to have too little cash in ATMs because the machines could run out of money, nor do they want to have too much money in the machines because they lose money on interest revenue."

The ATM makers NCR Corp., Wincor Nixdorf AG and Diebold Inc. offer banks and credit unions cash-forecasting software as part of their managed services, Luria said.

Diebold, in North Canton, Ohio, uses Morphis' customized ATM cash-forecasting software, Faulkner said. Depending on the number of cash-holding cassettes, an ATM can keep up to $100,000 in its safe.

ATM makers are targeting credit unions for managed services. NCR, in Duluth, Ga., signed a three-year outsourcing agreement in December with Co-op Financial Services in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The co-op's credit union members can lease new ATMs, and NCR manages the machines through Co-op ATM Managed Services.

With Morphis, banks and credit unions pay a $1,500 setup fee to connect their ATMs to Morphis-Online/ATMCash, the company's browser-based cash-forecasting tool. The software collects the machines' transaction histories, which show how much the ATMs dispense daily, weekly and monthly. The software also gives information about how much money is in the machines, Faulkner said.

ATM owners then know how often to schedule armored car services to replenish the machines and collect deposits.

Morphis charges a monthly fee of $50 for the first ATM and $5 for each additional machine, Faulkner said. Banks and credit unions can add as many ATMs as they want.

This pricing is much lower than the $100,000 minimum for Morphis' customized ATM cash-forecasting software. "That price is a real barrier to community banks and credit unions," Faulkner said. "The software automates basic cash management tasks."