Through pilots and prototypes, the future world of ATM functionality already is on view. Whether full-scale deployment is weeks or years down the road, ATM manufacturers are preparing for takeoff.

Near on the horizon is Triton's new 9800 series of ATMs, announced in May and due for deployment at the end of Q4. Triton, based in Long Beach, MS, has made its mark in the off-site ATM market, particularly with lower-priced cash dispensing machines. The 9800's functionality, however, features all the capabilities associated with a high-end ATM terminal, according to Brian Kett, senior vice president of sales and marketing. At the same time, the new machines will offer Triton's "competitive price point" and "low cost of ownership," Kett says.

"The 9800 series is really a true, high-end, PC Windows 2000-based platform ... and will really have the capabilities of handling any type of other value- added offering that retailers and/or banks may want to offer to their customers," he says. The machine, according to Kett, has a full 12-inch, LCD screen and will be able to "run video on the transaction screen, as well as driving another video screen" that would be in the high top. Sidecar capabilities include a check-cashing module, a large-format printer and depository features for financial institutions.

Enhancing customer relationships is high on the priority list for FIs, and Diebold's one-to-one marketing program already is in ATM pilot mode. The strategy involves identifying the ATM customer and targeting information on an individualized level, according to Cassie Metzger, senior marketing manager, global markets at Diebold. For example, she says, if an ATM customer has two teenagers, the ATM message could address how to pay for college expenses through investments or loans.

One-to-one marketing can deliver messages in a series of campaigns, as well, Metzger says. "You don't have to do it just once, and it doesn't have to be the same message each time, because we can keep track of what you've already seen." The customer, who already has a relationship with the financial institution, is assured that personal information won't be shared, she adds.

Breaking ATM tradition in both form and function is NCR's Freedom machine. The screenless, keyless ATM interacts with wireless devices through Bluetooth and infrared technologies, and customers can set up ATM transactions in advance with a cell phone or personal digital assistant. To withdraw money at a Freedom machine, the customer enters a security PIN on a mobile device, points it at the red, egg-shaped ATM and receives cash.

Tim Wiggins, spokesperson for NCR's Advanced Concept Lab in Dundee, Scotland, explains the Freedom machine as an exercise in possibilities. "The whole idea behind building the Freedom unit was to say, 'Here's a different way of doing a transaction.' Also, why does an ATM have to look like an ATM? Why does it have to be a big, gray box?"

According to Wiggins, mobile devices will come of age as payment devices in the near future. And from store checkout lanes, the technological progression will move to wireless ATMs. But don't plan on spotting Freedom machines on street corners anytime soon. "There are approximately 1 million ATMs out there at the moment," Wiggins says. "Before we actually go out replacing them all with the Freedom ATMs, we will be updating machines in the field to take mobile phones."

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