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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 @07:39AM (#15045069) Homepage Journal
    TFA [com.com]
  • Re:"too many steps"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hattig (47930) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:03AM (#15045130) Journal
    I've seen ATMs offer mobile phone top ups for quite a while, which is probably useful if you have a pre-pay mobile.

    Anything else takes too long - when there's a queue you aren't going to live long if you start using slow specialist services.

    I also happen to think that charging people to get access to their own money is a bit rich, but luckily I'm in the UK so all the standard bank and building society cash machines are free regardless of who you bank with. Going abroad is always a shock though, because we're used to withdrawing smaller amounts of money more frequently than large amounts of money infrequently.
  • Sorry, didn't RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by bazorg (911295) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:18AM (#15045159)
    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 :)

  • by coffeechica (948145) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:46AM (#15045222)
    Absolutely serious. I've got a bank account and use transfers for pretty much everything, from the phone bill to electricity to payments to Amazon. My wages get paid into that accout. And for everyday money I use either cash or my debit card, since you can pay with that at most shops. I use online banking regularly, so my bank sees me maybe once a month, if that. And even then I use the ATMs instead of the teller, unless I need something more complicated. I honestly cannot think of a single instance where I'd need to use a check/cheque/however you want to spell it.
  • Re:Cashing checks? (Score:3, Informative)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash&p10link,net> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:47AM (#15045224) Homepage
    that only works if you have

    1: an account
    2: either sufficiant funds or sufficant overdraft facility to cover the cash withdrawl.
    3: an atm that supports deposits (do most us atms do so? i know most in the uk don't seem to)

    i presume by check cashing they are reffering more to the service you get from places like pawnbrokers who will give you cash and then essentially lend you the money until the check clears (for a fee ofc)

  • by ahillen (45680) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:08AM (#15045257)
    Are you guys serious?

    Yes. The last time I wrote a check was probably some time in the end (or middle?) of the 80s, when I had just gotten my bank account and ATMs were not that common. Then I had to fill out a check to get money from my bank account. Since then, I never wrote a check. If I want to give money to other people, I either give it cash or transfer it from bank account to bank account electronically. The later I can do either online, by telephone, or at some ATM-like machines at the bank (I could also go to the bank during the opening hours, of course, fill out a form and give it to some employ/throw it in a letter box). But sending checks? Never, seriously. My wage is transfered to my bank account, my rent is transfered from my bank account...
  • by tinkertim (918832) * on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:47AM (#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 :)
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:26AM (#15045450)
    Depends on your account, some banks have accounts where you have to pay a few cents for making transactions on these machines.

    BTW, the transaction systems 'round here run on Windows ME.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:41AM (#15045487)
    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 windows start menu/task bar displayed over top of the ATM software screens... That one kind of scared me... I decided to use a different ATM that evening...
  • by Formica (775485) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:39AM (#15045703)
    Um, where exactly did you check on the SSN not being a valid form of identification? http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_154.html [straightdope.com]
  • by hab136 (30884) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:12PM (#15045806) Journal
    Do they still use *checks* in the US? I mean, they haven't heard of wire transfers and online banking? Seriuosly, how do people receive their wages or pay their rent there? By CHECKS?

    Most full-time employees receive their wages by direct deposit. Most mortgages are auto-deducted from bank accounts.

    Apartment rent, part-time employee wages, and person-to-person transfers normally use checks, yes.

    The US never really caught on to wire transfers. The $50 fee per transfer might have something to do with that (Bank of America last year, transferring to my sister's Wachovia account)

  • Ummmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by 8ball629 (963244) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @04:48PM (#15046756) Homepage
    I think the vCom machines in the 7-11s are great for getting money orders at crazy hours. I've used the vCom down the street quite a few times just for the money order feature and its not confusing at all unless you don't know english. Also, I didn't have to sign up to get a money order. One of the cool features about getting a money order was you can put somewhere around 20 bills in at once and it sorts and counts them all out for you. Its great if they're coming out with something better but the current ones aren't THAT bad...

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