The headlines speak volumes:
Counterfeit Bills Found In Chase ATMs
$110,000 In Fake Money Found in Manhattan ATM
The culprit in the Chase ATM fraud effort was an employee with NCR Corporation, which is an electronics company that doles out and repairs ATM machines. This begs the questions: are our ATMs still valuable in our fast-moving society?
You may have noticed fewer Bank of America ATMs around. That’s because the banking giant has cut 9% of its active cash dispensing magic machines. That comes more than 1,500 machines that are now out of service. It opted to pull from both gas stations and malls because they weren’t available twenty four hours a day since they were located on the inside of the businesses. This means the opportunities to earn profits from your credit card and my credit card were limited to no more than about twelve hours a day. Not only that, but most of us weren’t pulling cash when we were shopping for those new fall boots or filling up our tanks. We all love our rewards points, after all.
Not only that, but many of the machines were limited in what they could do. These days, consumers want full service banking options at an ATM and many of Bank of America’s machines simply didn’t offer the option of depositing physical checks (as if any of us are still receiving paper checks from our employers). Bank of America spokesperson Anne Pace said,
It’s about convenience and access, that’s what the customers are looking for, people aren’t banking 9 to 5, they are banking when it’s convenient for them.
It’s simply no longer a benefit for many banks. It makes sense when you consider it costs banks, on average, about $1,700 every month to run an ATM that’s on another’s property, such as a mall of gas station. When you compare it to the average $1,100 it costs when it sits at a bank-owned branch, you can see how the costs can add up. The rental costs is one thing, but there’s actually another reason it costs so much – the armored trucks and couriers that are required to fill the ATMs with cash.
What’s interesting is this seems to be a move only Bank of America is making, at least at this time. Even the fake money found in the Chase ATM isn’t enough to cause one of the nation’s biggest banks to reconsider. In fact, Chase is actually planning on increasing its number of ATMs, according to the New York Times’ writer Ann Carns. One spokesperson with the bank said it currently has more than 17,500 ATMs in service at this time with plans to increase that number as it continues to open branches around the country.
For its part, Citigroup’s 10,000-plus ATMs will remain in place, too. More than half of its ATMs are at 7-11 stores around the country and Wells Fargo, which recently merged with Wachovia Bank, said it will neither increase or decrease its 12,000 ATMs scattered around the U.S.
There are a few other things to keep in mind, though – and these considerations are important. First, we (as in American consumers) love those convenient apps that allow us to take these nifty photos of our physical checks and deposit them instantly – even if we’re drawing a hot bath at 3 a.m. on Monday or dropping the kids off at softball practice at noon on Saturday – we love our technology. But no matter how advanced those apps are, they can spew out cash when we want it. No, we still rely on ATMs for those tasks – and that will never change. Not only that, we want to be able to access our cash at little, or preferably, no cost whatsoever and the only way to ensure that at an ATM is to find one that our bank owns. Therefore, it makes sense from a customer satisfaction stance for the banks to keep their ATMs alive and kicking.
We may no longer use our ATM just to check our balance, after all, we can simply text our bank and have the answer within seconds. And we may not even use the ATM to deposit our checks, thanks to direct deposit and the aforementioned picture option, or better known as “remote deposits”, but still, those ATMs serve a huge purpose in our lives.
So no, our ATMs are not antiquated; in fact, they are emerging as quickly as our phone apps. While Bank of America is looking for ways to make better use of its own ATMs, and certainly opting to pull them from certain areas is a smart move, there’s no denying the convenience these technological marvels serve in our lives – from cash advances on our credit cards, to a quick pull of lunch money we forgot to dole out to the kids this morning to making that last minute credit card payment, these are as much a part of our lives as those bubble baths and shopping sprees.
What do you think – do you rely on ATMs today or have they gone to the wayside with a dwindling need for cold, hard cash? Share your story with us and let us know your thoughts.