Reshape The ATM

As credit unions bring their older units up to speed, they should consider the direction the industry is moving.


The old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality may suffice for some, for a while. But when it comes to ATMs, one of the most commonly used contact points for a financial institution, letting your workhorses from decades past linger too long can have serious impacts on the brand experience.

A March deadline for compliance with new American With Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines has pushed financial institutions to update older ATM units with auxiliary aides like speech capabilities, Braille, headphone jacks, and blank screen options for security, among other changes.

As credit unions upgrade and replace those units that lag behind, 2012 may also be a good time to consider some trending, bleeding-edge features that institutions can invest in or encourage in their own vendor solutions in the years ahead.

No-Touch Interface

The video below shows Brazilian company Itautec SA demonstrating the mechanics of its new virtual interface solution. Although the video is not in English, the technology is still impressive to see.

The machine relies on sensors and facial recognition to know when to start and end a session. For security reasons, if someone tries to look at the screen over your shoulder, the session terminates automatically. Hand gestures let users enter information and control the experience, which prevents wear and tear to the machine and eliminates unsanitary surface contact. Plus, since the cash-storing portion of the unit can be separated from the screen, it eliminates the potential for the grab-and-haul ATM thefts that have become more common worldwide.

No-Lie Interface

Russian bank Sberbank is building on the credit issuing ATMs already in use in the Middle East with a “built-in lie detector” feature, says the New York Times. In addition to providing validation through passport, fingerprint, and facial recognition readers, the unit measures stress levels in the applicant’s response to questions about employment and other topics, helping to weed out fraud.

No-Hassle Interface

High-tech options often come with high-end costs and upkeep, but in some situations, small, simple, sustainable ATMs have the advantage. ATM maker NCR’s Pillar prototype is a screeenless, self-contained structure with a fingerprint reader for identification/authentication and a series of color coded buttons for different denominations. While its simple design has great implications for countries where illiteracy or language barriers may be an issue, versions designed for stateside use may one day be able to read data through a Smartphone NFC solution and indentify users that way, reports FastCompany.


Feb. 22, 2012


  • Very interesting - and exciting potential for the future of our financial side of life. I'm not to sure about the 'stress-level' indicator of a machine playing truth or dare with my ability to transact business. Depending on the situation, my stress level when encountering an ATM machine could be off the charts. The biometrics with the fingerprint readers would have to be enhanced tremendously before I'd trust that technology. My gym uses that method for check-in and it fails me 98% of the time. Keep up the insightful reporting though. This is all good stuff! And thanks for listing the source so clealy. I know which publications to pick off my pile to read the ful article.