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Super-ATMs Being Rolled Out 270 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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  • Even better... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lispy ( 136512 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:43AM (#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!
  • $1.75 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by od05 ( 915556 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:23AM (#15045171)
    $1.75 is not terribly bad, in Chicago you can't find a single ATM for less than $2.00.
  • by hanssprudel ( 323035 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:48AM (#15045225)
    Are you guys serious? Yes, we use "cheques" all the time in the U.S. I get my wages in a check, I pay the rent with a check, etc. I do use a debit card for most purchases, though.

    Yes, they are most probably serious. I am equally surpised every time I hear americans talk about checks. For me it is a novelty from a past age: you might as well be saying you have to talk to your money scrivener and goldsmith about payments.

    I get my salary via a transfer into my bank account. Even if I had not (for convenience) given my employers my account number for the direct transfer, I would get it as a payment through a clearance service. Likewise I pay my rent through a direct monthly transaction from my bank account, but if I hadn't set that up I could have done via bills paid directly through my Internet bank account (larger companies can send it as an online bill, so I don't even get a paper bill cluddering my mailbox every month). I pay my other bills (electricity, broadband, etc in the same way).

    Beyond that I have a debit card and a charge card for purchases, and cash for small private transactions. What would I need checks for?
  • by beeblebrox87 ( 234597 ) <> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:14AM (#15045274)
    I'm studying at university in the UK, and there are still occasional situations when one needs to use a cheque. I had to pay my tuition bill with a cheque (since the university is not willing to pay the transaction fees involved in debit card or bank transfer payments) and was paid by cheque when I sold an old computer to a friend, but aside from such rare situations I never use cheques. My parents live in the US and tell me they hardly ever use cheques either, their salaries are deposited into their bank accounts and they pay their bills with their bank's online bill-pay feature. Not sure what all the USians here are talking about, cheques seem to be dead almost everywhere.
  • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:03AM (#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.
  • Ever been to Japan? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by benher ( 948132 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @10:57AM (#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.
  • "Super" ATMs? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dodobh ( 65811 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:25PM (#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.
  • Re:Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MKalus ( 72765 ) <[mkalus] [at] []> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @12:42PM (#15045923) Homepage
    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).
  • by toomanyhandles ( 809578 ) * on Sunday April 02, 2006 @01:07PM (#15046010)
    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 is in order on this thread.
    The exact same companies who say it is "impossible" to build voting machines that also provide a paper trail to allow for recounts and validation, are the exact same companies who MAKE ATMs.

    You know, those machines that give you a precise and verifiable paper record of your transaction and account balance, the instant you adjust it.
    Heck Australian voting machine designers looked at the US systems and laughed at us in disbelief, saying that the only reason to implement a system in this fashion was to purposefullly allow it to be cheated.

    All the fuss over the Florida e-voting; Diebold and Windsor/Nixdorf saying "not possible" re: paper trails; the ATM down the street that I use monthly, has those same companies name and logo on it. Let's just roll the voting feature into the banking one then, since the banking one works and is eminently more traceable and verifiable than the current voting machines.

    You stated in your post that the security needed for voting is far stronger than that for money. I agree; but at this time, there is no meaningful security implemented for electronic voting, all the data shows that the system has been jiggered with, and with total impunity. Just try jiggering with your ATM account; see how far you get.

    Perhaps my initial post was too subtle.
    We have been screwed
    OK, I let it all hang out. I feel better.
  • Re:MacDonalds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rapidweather ( 567364 ) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @01:15PM (#15046040) Homepage
    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, namely the deposit slot, sometimes jammed, with a clueless bank totally unaware. Long holidays can lead to the ATM's being essentially out of service for longer periods of time. Improvised signs by helpful visitors to the ATM warn of danger only too often. Lack of scotch tape to stick the sign to the front of the ATM a problem, usually solved by sticking the sign in an almost non-existent crack in the ATM, at the mercy of the wind, rain, and the person that visited the ATM just minutes before you come along.
  • by Sebilrazen ( 870600 ) <> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @02:31PM (#15046320)
    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.
  • by jessecurry ( 820286 ) <> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @04:04PM (#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.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard