COMMENTARY

In a mobile banking era, the ATM is more important than ever

| by Rebecca Hellmann
In a mobile banking era, the ATM is more important than ever

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In the era of the smartphone, mobile banking has seen a considerable increase in use. Account holders who once depended on bank branches have started to use mobile phones and laptops for a variety of transactions. And it seems as if new payment systems enter the market each week.

The most common way to interact with a bank or credit union remains the branch, with 84 percent of consumers with bank accounts stating they have visited a branch in the past 12 months, according to a Fed survey.

However, the digital age has begun to generate an ongoing decline in cardholders visiting the branch as they rely more heavily on on-the-go account options.

Despite the growing preference for digital account interaction, the convenience of ATMs continues to drive consumers to use them as a main source of cash and account access.

In fact, a recent study from Raddon Research Insights reports an increase in ATM use by cardholders who rely on mobile. Here are five reasons why mobile banking users love the ATM:

  • ATMs are convenient for mobile users
  • In the past, new products and services were introduced by mail or by phone. Today, mobile banking users learn about new services or products from their financial institution via through their mobile device or computer.
  • Users can simply open their financial institution's app or website and apply for the latest offerings. Account holders want this type of convenience in all aspects of banking.
  • Most transactions, such as account inquiries, funds transfers, and requests for products and services can be handled through mobile banking applications.

But there is one thing mobile apps and online account access cannot provide — hard cash. The 2017 ATM and Self-Service Software report shows that 79 percent of respondents consider access to fee-free ATMs "very important" or "essential."

 For fast and easy access to real funds, heavy users of online and mobile avenues turn to the most convenient, quick and easy solution — the ATM.

ATM technology has evolved

Consumers' primary use for an ATM is still to grab some cash, but this is starting to change. Many newer ATMs offer a wider range of convenient services — including cash and check deposits, cardless transactions, person-to-person payments and check cashing — and cardholders are taking notice.

In fact, cardholders in one survey said they would like to see greater functionality at the ATM: 19 percent wanted bill pay and more than 70 percent would like to be able to get cash in denominations other than $20.

Cardless access is another ATM feature that many mobile users are beginning to rely upon. Large institutions such as Wells Fargo, Bank of American, JP Morgan Chase have introduced card-free transactions at their machines.

As these new capabilities are implemented, ATMs are becoming more user-friendly than ever before.

ATMs can offer an omnichannel experience

Lower branch engagement among mobile users means fewer opportunities for an FI to engage face-to-face with these customers.  This makes the alignment of digital, omnichannel messaging essential.

Some advanced ATMs can help bridge the communication gap with specialized upload-and-delivery software. These systems provide an additional way for banks and credit unions to display event reminders, special offers, and other messaging — and target that message directly to an individual cardholder.

Most mobile users prefer self-service

The Mercator Insight Report "Self-Service, ATM, and Other Channel Banking: Expand My Options" notes that more and more consumers are enamored with self-service options — including the ATM.

The report surveyed more than 3,000 adults with accounts at financial institutions. Of these participants, smartphone owners reported greater use of self-service — 67 percent of mobile users compared with 60 percent of all respondents.

Financial institutions love ATMs, too

Supporting an ATM network is less expensive than maintaining a robust branch presence. And, as branch use trends downward, ATMs simply make sense as a reliable avenue for maintaining physical brand presence and cash availability.

The growing availability of surcharge-free networks and outsourcing opportunities at convenient locations is also a benefit for banks and credit unions focused on reaching cardholders on the go.

Mobile banking is here to stay

As smartphones continue to grow in popularity and prevalence, consumers increasingly trust and rely upon the technology and integrate it more fully into their everyday lives. These banking customers show a marked preference for convenience, self-service and the ATM.

With the availability of more — and more advanced — functionality, the ATM can be an invaluable touchpoint for financial institutions and their mobile banking customers.


Topics: ATM Innovation, ATM & Mobile Banking, Bank / Credit Union, Branch Transformation, Omnichannel Banking

Companies: FCTI Inc


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