Life would be a lot harder without automated teller machines.
That's what consumers said in a recent survey of their use of and attitudes regarding ATMs.
The survey, commissioned by ATM manufacturer AT&T Global Information Solutions (formerly NCR Corp.), found that 44% of adults use ATMs. Of these, 90% use them at least once a month, and 68% say life would be more difficult without them.
"We can see from our research that a large segment of the pop-ulation is enthusiastic about using ATMs for their banking needs," said John Gray, vice president of financial products and systems marketing for the AT&T unit, based in Dayton, Ohio.
The AT&T survey results are supported by other consumer studies, including those conducted by Synergistics Research Corp., Atlanta.
Both studies are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of American consumers. The AT&T survey of 1,011 took place in January; the Synergistics survey of 1,000 happened last summer.
Younger consumers are most likely to use ATMs, according to both organizations.
The AT&T survey revealed that 60% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34, and 51% between the ages of 35 and 49 visit ATMs about eight times a month and withdraw an average of $55 each time they go.
In contrast, it found only 17% of Americans aged 65 and over use ATMs, visiting them only once every two weeks.
"Younger bank customers who have grown up with technology over the past decade have a tremendous appetite for ATM usage and may hardly ever visit a bank branch," said Mr. Gray.
The Synergistics research confirms this analysis, saying six in 10 ATM users visit bank branches less often to transact business with a human teller since starting to use ATMs.
ATM use also increases with income level. The AT&T survey indicated that 60% of those making over $40,000 a year use ATMs, while only 30% of Americans making less than $20,000 use them.
Younger, more affluent customers are most likely to use off-premises ATMs as well, according to Synergistics.
Three in 10 consumers already use ATMs at hotels (37%), airports (32%), or theme parks (29%), or are likely to do so, according to Synergistics.
What's more, consumers are willing to pay surcharges to use ATMs in travel locations. Three-fourths of the Synergistics survey respondents said they would pay at least $1, and six in 10 would pay $2.
"This is important in terms of revenue potential," said Anne Morgan Moore, president of Synergistics. "The strategy of placing ATMs here, there, and everywhere may have paid off in terms of generating fee income."
When asked what services besides withdrawing cash and making deposits they would like to perform at ATMs, AT&T survey respondents said they were interested in paying bills, transferring funds between accounts, checking balances, and shopping.
But Synergistics found consumers expressing only marginal interest in using ATMs for customer service activities.
Ms. Moore explained, "Many of these activities can now be performed by telephone and voice-response systems."