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Super-ATMs Being Rolled Out 270

Posted by Zonk
from the more-than-just-money-machines dept.
News.com has an article up looking at something I find interesting and somewhat confusing. The Vcom ATM is an attempt to make people's lives more convenient by adding unexpected functionality to the standard Teller Machine. Besides dispensing cash, new ATMs can fulfull the roles of PayPal (by sending money to people), bank (by cashing checks on the spot), and cellphone store (by selling Verizon services). From the article: "The Circle K and Exxon Mobil machines are far more basic than 7-Eleven's Vcoms, which have been called overengineered. Several dozen customers polled informally outside a 7-Eleven in Winter Springs, Fla., recently said that they had never used the Vcom inside, and one woman who said she did use it once to withdraw cash complained that it was 'confusing' and 'complicated,' and added that she would not use it again. 'There were just too many steps,' said the woman, Peggy Baker, who teaches French in Winter Springs. 'And the $1.75 transaction fee was too much--it was painful.' She said she was not interested in the other Vcom features, which require users to enroll and enter a Social Security number on a touch screen."
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Super-ATMs Being Rolled Out

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:39AM (#15045069) Homepage Journal
    TFA [com.com]
  • by Zen Punk (785385) <cdavidbonner.gmail@com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:41AM (#15045072) Journal
    If only they had it throw up a windows-like dialog box with "yes" or "no" they could get people to sign their live savings over to 7-11 very easily.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:41AM (#15045074)
    Or is that too 'confusing' and 'complicated'?
  • MacDonalds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toby The Economist (811138) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:41AM (#15045075)
    ATMs are the MacDonalds of the banking world.

    MacDonalds don't offer slow food.

    Making an ATM offer slow services is not a good move; they just won't be used, in exactly the same way that very few people would buy a burger from MacDonalds if it took twenty minutes to cook.

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:01AM (#15045122) Journal
      We took the fast out of fast food. In fact the "slow food" places like McD and Burger King are were you probably spend the most time waiting to get your meal.

      As for this whole ATM idea that becomes a small store. Well, surely paying your bills through it is only for the poor (else you would just let your bank do it for free) who can only pay with cash. 1.75-3 dollars seems like the extra banks charge here if you want to pay a bill cash as the counter instead of through the mail from your account.

      As for other services. Yeah great. Internet access through an ATM? Talk about a waste of hardware. You got a small bank vault, a complex teller machine sitting idle while somebody is browing goatse and 20 fuming customers behind him waiting to withdraw cash?

      Couple that with the fact that an awfull lot of people are already confused enough by regular cash dispensers and this sounds like a really bad idea.

      Then again what do I know. Maybe people said the same things about the original ATM's.

      But 3 dollars for paying a bill. Yikes.

      • I'm old enough to remember the original ATMs (called Money Access Centers (MAC) at the time BTW). People thought it was a great idea and immediately saw why it would be useful. The concern were all about tellers no longer existing for those transactions that were too complicated. No one thought "why would anyone want that"?
        • I'm old enough to remember the original ATMs (called Money Access Centers (MAC) at the time BTW).

          Same here! Ours was called Molli Mac (get it>) and the thrill factor was pretty big at the time. No cashing of checks, no waiting in teller lines, etc...

      • In fact the "slow food" places like McD and Burger King are were you probably spend the most time waiting to get your meal.

        I have heard several people make a statement like this and I want to know: where the hell are they are eating their other meals at? For a good home cooked meal it always takes me about a half hour to an hour (and even longer for roasts and some soups). For good sit down restaurants in my area it is many times a 20 minute wait for seating, a ten minute wait for drinks, and ten to 20
        • I have heard several people make a statement like this and I want to know: where the hell are they are eating their other meals at? For a good home cooked meal it always takes me about a half hour to an hour (and even longer for roasts and some soups). For good sit down restaurants in my area it is many times a 20 minute wait for seating, a ten minute wait for drinks, and ten to 20 minute wait for food. At the fast food places it is 10 minutes tops, maybe 20 if there is a REALLY long line.

          At a down-hom

    • ATMs are the MacDonalds of the banking world.

      What?

      The 'product' that you 'buy' at an ATM is exactly the same as what you'd get at a bank, but you get it faster.

      The product you buy at MacDonalds is utter crap compared to a real restaurant, but quicker and (for some people) more convenient.

      Are you sure you're not really this guy? [slashdot.org]
    • MacDonalds don't offer slow food.

      The fast food company with the golden arches is called McDonald's not MacDonalds. MacDonalds is probably some Irish pub in Boston that takes 30 minutes to serve up your corned beef sandwich. Either way you're wrong.

    • Re:MacDonalds (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rapidweather (567364)
      McDonalds has gotten away from their core business long ago by offering too much on the menu. So, they don't have your burger, fries and drink ready when you arrive. What was simple to do in the 1950's is now hard to do.
      Also, the drive in window takes 20 minutes to get to, the driveway up to it is always full. Not enough employees on the production line, those that are there are lost in the details of the now-complicated menu.

      ATM's are reasonably quick. Anything that a customer can get to can get fouled up,
  • Even better... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lispy (136512) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:43AM (#15045078) Homepage
    The only upgrade I would like to see would be if they made it actually return money. But well, that's just me...

    Actually, it's my 20cents. Harhar!
  • by Scoria (264473) <slashmail.initialized@org> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:48AM (#15045093) Homepage
    enter a Social Security number on a touch screen.

    A masked thief enters a convenience store. The cashier tells him to take whatever he wants, but is surprised when he opens the ATM, removes a hard disk drive, and runs up to the cashier. He shouts, "I own you!"

    The cashier says, "No! I meant that you could take anything but me!"
  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:49AM (#15045096)
    I don't see how they can be considered "super-ATMs". I'm from Portugal, which isn't a tech superpower, and in here the regular ATMs offer that kind of service since the early 90s.
  • by toomanyhandles (809578) * on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:53AM (#15045108)
    Can they set them up to handle the voting booth tasks? It seems the same companies that make these reliable, traceable units, just can't figure out how to make a voting console properly. Merging the two could solve the USA's current problems with (apparantly) rigged elections.
    • That will never happen, unfortunately. I recently asked a friend why we don't just hold elections online, surely that could be done. To my surprise his immediate response was well thought out and eloquent, I won't do it justice, but the jist is.. If citizens can very easily just vote on issues from home, then why is there a need for decision makers in government at all? So once you allow everyone to vote from home, you open yourself up to that. Once you remove all the decision makers, you end up with a g
    • Merging the two could solve the USA's current problems with (apparantly) rigged elections.

      Voting at a cash dispenser seems a bit dangerous. What if a vote for a certain party causes an "accidental" buffer overflow and spits out money?

    • Can they set them up to handle the voting booth tasks? It seems the same companies that make these reliable, traceable units, just can't figure out how to make a voting console properly.

      I hadn't really thought of this until your post prompted me, but this is the theory under which you'd buy a voting machine from an ATM company isn't it? You would think that designing a system that can give away cash and take money out of people's accounts without human intervention would give a company the appropriate atti
      • It follows that voting has a MUCH HIGHER level of security required in voting than in dispensing cash, because a tiny amount of fraud can have large consequences. It's the kind of thing you really can't afford to get wrong. The kind company you need is not the one that knows how to make the kind of trade offs you need to make a practical financial system. You'd want the kind of company you'd trust to do things like design a system to secure sensitive military data transfer.

        Perhaps a little reminder i
  • by Walzmyn (913748)

    SS Number? I give that to no one unless they are paying into the system for me - ie. my boss. It ticks off a lot of doctors offices when that box is blank but when I ask 'em why they need to know it they just stare at me.

    I'd just as soon not have one at all, but I'm sure not pluging it into an ATM.

  • Sorry, didn't RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by bazorg (911295) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:18AM (#15045159) Homepage
    Over here in Portugal we have a company called SIBS [www.sibs.pt] which is owned by a consortium of banks. They're in charge of managing the network of ATM and the services provided to other companies through those machines.

    Possibly the best single feature they rolled out was to make available ATM payments to just about any company wiling to sign up. The first adopters were the utilities companies, that because of this now have less offices and "point of sale" than needed 20 years ago. Today any company can become a client of SIBS and get a 5-number code to be its ID. This ID will be printed on invoices along with another number, which identifies the transaction. Anyone can use an ATM to pay the invoice. Just type in these 2 codes, the amount to be transfered and you're done. The receipt will be printed out and for some services (ie: mobile phone top-ups) you get to see the effect within a couple of seconds.

    Building on this basic operation, many companies hired the services of SIBS to add their own menus and sub-menus on the ATMs, so these days there is a quite a lot of stuff you can do:

    • buy concert tickets
    • buy train tickets
    • make bank transfers
    • allow/change permissions for automatic payments from your account (ie: allow the water bill to be paid without confirmation)
    • top up mobile phones
    • pay public transport monthly tickets . this one had some extra work: the public transport tickets have to get in the ATM so their chip gets read/written. They're similar to London's Oyster cards
    and so on. overall it's pretty cool and has been working for a while now, that's why I'm surprised that adding bank transfers to ATM operations (in the US?) makes the news on /. in 2006. A few years ago, as banks started to have www-based services, new forms of login information were added to allow people to do at home most of these things, except getting cash out of your printer :)

    • These kinds of services have been in available in Japan for a very long time as well.
  • Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zaguar (881743) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:21AM (#15045168)
    I'm sorry, but I don't want to shop at my ATM. I want to do one thing - Deposit and withdraw money. I don't want a media center running on the latest and greatest OS - with the latest exploits included (free of charge)

    Mind you, that would be the only thing banks provide free these days.

  • $1.75 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by od05 (915556)
    $1.75 is not terribly bad, in Chicago you can't find a single ATM for less than $2.00.
    • Anything more than $0 is bad IMO.

      In the UK most ATMs are free, and I refuse to use the ones that charge.

      My bank is already making money on the intrest I earn/pay, why should I have to pay to take out my own money?
      • <AOL>ME TOO</AOL>

        No, I won't use cash machines that charge. I also don't use petrol stations that have night pay windows - let me in the damn shop, or you don't get my business. I'm a customer, so don't treat me as a criminal.
    • Are you saying it costs $2 just to withdraw money?
  • Having RTFA I don't see mention on the main reason for inputting a SSN. Last I checked, The SSN is NOT VALID to be used as a form of identification (even though we all know we're branded and identified by this number by our government overlords.) When are we going to finally stand up to these invasive bastards?
  • In canada, when you use your banks atm machines, you can cash cheques, pay bills, do almost anything you can do at a teller. The only reason I even go to the teller anymore is to get coins. There's still the need for money orders, and other things that only tellers can do, but those reasons are getting fewer and fewer. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. It's a lot more convenient to be able to get go up to a machine 24 hours a day and do your banking. but then again it's lost jobs for those people workin
    • Re:Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MKalus (72765)
      the one thing that still irks me with Canadian banks though is that they have those abitrary cutoff times / dates.

      Heck, most computer systems from large institutions run 24/7, why can't they process a payment on the weekend? There is no real reason WHY they have to hold it (they do take the money out of your account after all right that instant).
    • so? word processors made many typists redundant. I'm sure the correction fluid business nose-dived too. Those ex bank tellers hopefully retrain and go on to do something more stimulating and creative than a paper task that a computer can automate.
      thats the hope anyway :D
  • All that superduper stuff and I bet they still eat your card.
  • by tinkertim (918832) * on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:47AM (#15045350) Homepage
    VCom machines make a fortune from people who normally do not hold bank accounts. The check cashing is ideal for people who work the swing shift and miss most of the check cashing joints an liquor stores.

    Many people who don't have a bank account also pay their bills via western union, either a moneygram or purchasing money orders to mail off to someone , or drop in the rent box on the way home.

    These people really don't give a rat's ass who gets their social security number, they hope whoever steals it manages to pay off their bills and fix their credit score.

    They also don't care about the $1.75 fee, as most people who appreciate the machines don't in fact use the ATM feature.

    Vcom cornered a market nobody else has been able to touch. There's a 7-11 in every blue collar neighborhood in most first , and third world countries and those things are popping up globally.

    So .. as the game show used to say .. 'SURVEY SAYS' -> once again, nothing useful because the people surveying are just too dense to realize exactly who these things were designed to serve.

    Rather swift marketing imho :)
    • So .. as the game show used to say .. 'SURVEY SAYS' -> once again, nothing useful because the people surveying are just too dense to realize exactly who these things were designed to serve.

      Well, this is exactly the sort of technology that should be designed—ideally—to serve every consumer. Another slashdotter compared ATM technology with McDonalds restaurants. That's an apt comparison on multiple levels, since McDonalds kitchens are designed toward the ultimate goal of intuitive, self-explana

      • >> Well, this is exactly the sort of technology that should be designed--ideally--to serve every consumer.

        I think the appeal of these machines to the people who are making them a success is they feel a little more like a customer than a consumer.

        The simple fact that it appears to be designed 100% with them in mind makes it novel on a more personal level.

        >> Not surprisingly, it seems as though the article's author wants to make this seem like a case in which users are polarly divided.

        That's becau
  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:03AM (#15045395) Homepage
    Every time I go to my bank's ATM I withdraw $300. To do this, they make me hit "withdraw money", then hit "from checking", then present me with several pre-selected amount buttons all below $200 which makes me hit "other amount", then I hit 3-0-0-0-0-ENTER, then I hit "confirm with receipt". Message to the bank: how about if you customize my options so that one of the first buttons I have the option of hitting reads "withdraw $300 like you have every time you've been here in the past ten years". I'd really like to hit just one button instead of ten. Doesn't seem like rocket science.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Chase (BankOne) ATMs have a feature just as you describe. You can set a "preferred fast cash amount." You enter your pin, and instead of hitting enter, you hit the "fast cash" button. It will validate your pin, and dispense your fast-cash amount (and will automatically print a receipt without prompting for it, if you have customized that setting too.)

      I'm actually very happy with how functional the Chase ATMs are here in Chicago... except for that one time I saw a malfunctioning ATM that actually had a wi
    • Wells Fargo ATMs allow you to do this for their 'Quick Cash' button. You can manually configure it to be the amount you need, want.
    • which makes me hit "other amount", then I hit 3-0-0-0-0-ENTER

      Well, how about those morrons remove the need to type the smaller currency?

      I mean, when was the last time that ATM allowed you to withdraw $0.53? It doesn't let you do this in Europe either. Hell, most ATMs in Euro zone or outside of it won't let you withdraw less than about 10-20 euro, some of them have no bills smaller than 100. And yet you have to type 1-0-0-0-0-enter to withdraw a hundred...

      Robert
  • ....according to Diebold, maker of millions of ATM's and some very bad voting machines, it isn't possible for them to create a voting machine which prints a receipt.

    Logic says then, that if these machines can print receipts, they cannot be voting machines. QED.

  • The more LOCs and functionality one of these has, the more potential for security holes. I'd go out of my way to avoid one of these.
  • Perhaps if you make getting cash just too hard for the average joe, you can wean the public off of those little anonymous bills.

    Once you do, you can more easily track the money flow, to catch those pesky terrorists.
  • Ever been to Japan? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by benher (948132) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:57AM (#15045533)
    I'm with the Europe folks on this one - This is really only news for Americans. Here in Japan, ATMs have had this sort of functionality via the Postal Savings system for years. That, and most ATMs at convenient stores can be used to pay utilities, purchase tickets, and a hoard of other services. Maybe US banks just don't feel any pressure to innovate. Hell, in comparison to the rest of the world in terms of a user experience it's not even innovation - it's catch-up.
    • Cost-cutting is the real goal. Tradition has had customers going to see a teller. But that costs money. So the banks are trying to push ideas that turn out to have been done elsewhere.

      The trick is getting the customers to break tradition and use the machines for more than withdrawals, so enter the train tickets and Paypal and whatever.

      What they are really saying is "here's this great machine that does all THIS, and it's free*!!! or you can go to a teller and pay extra. You choose."

      *until you have no ch
  • ... which require users to enroll and enter a Social Security number on a touch screen."

    Asking people to enter sensitive information on a touch screen in a completely insecure environment? It's one thing to go to your local bank branch and sign up for an ATM service, it's an entirely diffent matter to do it while standing in a 7-11. customers complained about the machine's usability, but I don't care if the thing is running Mac OSX ... an ATM is simply not the place to be signing up for services.

    If an
  • Here in Canada, we don't have machines like those, but I'm not sure if I'd even use them. We just have simple ATMs that accept cheques, bill payments, and dispense cash for free (well at least my bank).

    But the only thing I actually use them for is dispensing money once in a blue moon because everyone here accepts debit or credit cards. And maybe sometimes cashing in a goverment tax refund cheque.

    As far as bill go, we can pay them all online for free with my bank.
  • "Super" ATMs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dodobh (65811) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:25AM (#15045858) Homepage
    Hey, Indian banks have been offering these features for a few years now. I have been using these services for ~ 7 years (ever since I got an ATM card).

    And the menus are not confusing, they are actually laid out pretty well. (One additional option - other services, then just go down one or two levels more to get to the precise service you want). Cash withdrawal and cheque deposits are totally different services and have different buttons.
  • If only - we're in the $2.50-$2.75 range for fees here in the Balt/DC area. A $3 fee is pretty much the point at which cost outweighs convenience and I startchanging my banking habits. All the features in the world isn't going make me more inclined to use more sophisticaed ATMs.
    • WHen you start talking about it in terms of interest, or much anything else. It's outrageous. Goto taco bell and get charged and entire food item to use your ATM? Since when to gas stations charge to use your credit card to buy gas? The whole thing is stupid, I refuse to use my ATM/Credit Card anywhere there is a charge. Which in turn means, most of the time I just don't go there.
    • Maybe this is because I was raised by a Jewish mother, but I refuse to pay ATM fees. I either use my bank's ATMs, or get cash when I purchase something -- usually, my weekly groceries. Even if you have to stop at a Longs and buy a pack of gum, you still end up with a cheaper 'fee' ($0.75), and you get something out of the whole transaction (the gum).

      This does add up. Assume two ATM transactions per week. The average fee in my area seems to be around $1.75, and my bank charges an $0.75 'foreign ATM fee',
      • In the UK, banks used to charge for using ATMs. Then a few stopped. Then, they formed a group which allowed you to use each other's ATMs for free as well as your own banks. Supermarkets also jumped on this bandwagon by putting ATMs outside and absorbing the fees themselves, on the basis that it made people more willing to spend money.

        When you close a bank account, you are usually given a form to fill out explaining why[1]. Last time I did, I had to spend half an hour talking to the manager, while he

  • by peter303 (12292) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:37PM (#15046117)
    With real estate going up so much every month, my bank decided to bypass mortgage brokers and give out instant mortgages via ATMs.

    When you key your pin in, your now see the third line "MORTGAGE ACCOUNT" below "CHECKING ACCOUNT" and "SAVINGS ACCOUNT". When you select MORTGAGE ACCOUNT, you can ask for an instant appraisal (linked to Zillow.com) and the day's mortgage rates. If you like what you see, then you can apply for an instant cash out mortgage and it appears in your account. Then you can do waht you want with the new cash.

    This new feature was activated April 1, 2006 according to the disclosure.
  • How about rather than giving us uber-ATMs...how about making REALLY simple cheap ones and passing the savings on to the customers in the form of extremely reduced or non-existent transaction fees? Anybody have any idea what the profit margin is on those? I mean, it can't honestly cost anywhere close to $2 per withdrawl can it?

  • This is really a reaction to retail counter clutter, an annoying problem to retailers. There's not just a cash register and maybe a scale. There's the point of sale terminal, the credit card terminal, the customer PIN pad, the money order terminal, the lottery terminal, the cell phone activation terminal, the value card recharging terminal... And then you have to train minimum wage people to run all this stuff.

    Other countries have had the One Big ATM for some time, but the US has so many competing compan

  • by jessecurry (820286) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @03:04PM (#15046611) Homepage Journal
    My ex girlfriend used to use the Vcom all the time, and she was almost entirely technologically illiterate. After she used it the first time she said that it was "fun", and that she "felt like someone from the future".
    If she can use one, almost anyone should be able to use one. She'd go cash her payroll checks, which she would get on Saturday night after 6pm. If the check was ever less than $300 there was no fee. Plus there was the added benefit of the Slurpee that she would get me before she left the store.
    I thought that there was no way the machine would pay for itself, but she insisted that there were lines at times.
    I think that the idea is a good one, I think that people will use it, and I think that we will see machines such as this for a long time to come.

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