Jim Solomon's dream is to see wireless ATMs at every county fair, in every mall and anywhere thousands of consumers need fast access to cash. Some bankers share his vision, seeing dollars that could be saved--and revenue generated--if wireless technologies replace hard-wired ATMs with truly portable cash machines.

Solomon, president of Illinois-based GOOItech, says he's negotiating with every major financial institution in the United States for the adoption of GOOItech's cellular digital packet data solution (CDPD) for wireless ATMs (WATMs). "We perceive that the market penetration...could eventually grow to about 10 percent," Solomon says.

The WATMs are used by several banks to provide ATM services on gambling cruises. But soon deployment could include mobile banking fleets that are cost effective for use at special events. Different from current mobile ATMs using traditional cellular connections, WATMs are cheaper to operate and can process as many as three transactions per minute. First Union installed two WATMs on a cruise ship and is evaluating using WATMs at special events. "If we could find a more cost-effective solution, which we think we have, this will definitely be a huge revenue generator for us," says First Union avp Wayne Rosenthal.

The GOOItech software can be installed to work with many existing ATMs, but requires a new server at the bank costing between $7,000 and $20,000, plus $2,500 for hardware and software additions for each terminal.

Solomon says his system can reduce ATM communication costs by 75 percent. But not everyone agrees; executives at EDS do not believe that it's cheap enough to replace land-line ATMs. Others such as America's Community Bankers, however, are evaluating GOOItech's WATM technology. "I'm not sure I see as dramatic a potential impact in the mobile aspect as I do in the pure replacement of hard-wired ATMs," says COO Mike Potter.--sausner tfn.com

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