The automated teller machine makers NCR Corp. and Diebold Inc. are stepping up their efforts to diversify by offering mobile phone applications to banks.
NCR said it is offering software that bankers can use to connect consumers' mobile phones with Microsoft Corp.'s Surface touch-screen interface.
Customers will be able to fill out forms by putting a phone on top of the 30-inch Surface display, which would automatically import personal data from the phone, the Dayton, Ohio, company said Wednesday.
Some AT&T Inc. phone stores already let shoppers put various types of phones on the Surface screen, which then displays various specifications.
Mark Grossi, NCR's vice president of advanced development, said that some banks eventually will use the Surface technology in their branches, and that phones will be the way people want to interact with it. The phone "is going to become the personal trusted device, so with that foresight, we can start to put together solutions for our customers" that make the most of this trend.
By using data already stored on phones, the technology can help branches reduce wait times, he said.
In the United States, only some Nokia Corp. phones have the hardware to connect to Surface, but Mr. Grossi expects more phones will include it eventually.
No banks are using the software yet, he said, but they are starting to change their work flow, such as using more open branch environments, and such efforts can be improved with new technology.
Though NCR is a hardware vendor — it also offers self-serve kiosks for a range of other industries — in this case it needed only to develop the software to support mobile phones and Surface displays, Mr. Grossi said.
"Our role at NCR is to provide mobility solutions," he said. "We're not developing phones, but we're working closely with partners such as Nokia."
Also Wednesday, Diebold said it is distributing software from Clairmail Inc. of Novato, Calif., that lets people check balances and perform other banking activities using text messages.
Diebold did not say whether it has any customers for the application.
Mobile banking is starting to gain traction with banks, and Clairmail's rivals in this emerging space include Qualcomm Corp.'s Firethorn Holdings LLC unit, mFoundry Inc., and Monitise Americas LLC, a joint venture of Metavante Technologies Inc. and Monitise PLC of London.
Diebold, of North Canton, Ohio, has patents on some mobile banking technology, including a way for people to interact with ATMs with their phones.
Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group LLC, said NCR has to convince banks that its software will improve the branch experience for consumers.
Most efforts at bringing new technology, such as kiosks, to the branch have involved "another point of interaction using technology to do the same old" things, such as balance inquiries, he said, but linking phones to the Surface interface has the potential to do more.
"Maybe we're finally hitting an opportunity to entice consumers bank into the branches," Mr. Shevlin said. "That does something we're not able to do through other points of interaction. … That's what they kind of have to prove out here — is this fundamentally going to be a better transaction and a better place to do a transaction, and is the technology going to be supportive of it?
"What I see here is the potential for something new, and that's why I think this is certainly worth the experiment," he said.
Nick Holland, a senior analyst at Aite Group, said both Diebold and NCR are showing they do not have to develop complete mobile banking applications to benefit from these technology trends.
"It's indicative of the way the ATM industry is looking outside their standard confines," he said.