What wears dark sunglasses, speaks in a soft voice, and has lots and lots of cash?
No, it's not some incognito celebrity. It's "Bobbie," the talking ATM robot Key Bank has placed in the lobby of the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland.
It is the latest gimmick that the subsidiary of $65 billion KeyCorp has tried to make automated teller machines - and banking in general - entertaining.
It seems only appropriate for the science center, which has 350 exhibits on scientific and high-tech themes. It opened July 20 in North Coast Harbor on Lake Erie, next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - where Key Bank created a stir last year by installing a "jukebox" ATM.
Cash could be in demand at the science center, which is far from the commercial and banking center of town and has a movie theater, two restaurants, and a gift shop. Admission is $6.75 for adults and $4.50 for children.
"We always knew we'd want to have an ATM of some kind," said Ronald Mileti, a spokesman for Great Lakes Science Center. "It's to our advantage to have cash available for visitors."
For Stephen Wall, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Key Bank and chairman of the science center's board of trustees, it was a matter of innovation.
"We're always looking for new things, trying to promote convenience banking," he said. "Banking shouldn't be intimidating. It should be fun."
Bobbie beckons: "Come closer, I have cash." He rotates his head, and red lights flash behind his sunglasses.
Although the ATM is for adults with debit cards, children are drawn to the 8-foot-tall automaton and long lines are forming.
"I get carded 100 times a day," Bobbie says, his delivery as flat as Johnny Carson's.
"I am made of money - I see you coming," Bobbie whispers when customers approach.
A Diebold Inc. mechanism in the wisecracking contraption's belly dispenses up to $200 per transaction. When someone comes within 20 feet, motion sensors in Bobbie's nose cause his eyes and mouth light up - just like the robot from "Lost in Space"
Bobbie's comments tend to be more mundane than those of the TV series robot. "Key Bank welcomes you to the Great Lakes Science Center," he says from time to time.
"This has drawn a lot of attention," said Denise Benson, merchandising manager at Key Bank. Visitors "stand there and listen and laugh. Then they move on, or they pull out their card."
Bobbie is built to take the wear and tear of curious children. Charles Scavelli, Key Bank ATM program manager, said the bank "wanted something that would be nonthreatening and durable."
There are no extra fees to use Bobbie, who was designed by a Chicago company, Acme Wiley Inc.