Fifty years ago, the ATM was one of the first robots to start down the long path of stealing jobs. Even the name -- Automated Teller Machine -- shows that it was explicitly designed to put bank tellers out of a job.
ATMs have become far more sophisticated since their introduction, but their main function of dispensing cash hasn't really changed. So, for ATMs themselves to remain relevant as banks increasingly go online, there needs to be change.
NCR, a company you likely haven't heard of but almost certainly interact with frequently, has just released its latest take on the ATM. Called the SelfServ 80, it's likely to have payment processing conference attendees all aflutter -- but there's a reason you should care too.
Rather than just dispensing cash, the machine uses a 19-inch touchscreen and video confrencing to let you do virtually anything you'd do in a regular bank. Applying for credit cards or loans can theoretically happen without ever speaking to a person in the flesh: all the communication can happen with a bank advisor via fancy Skype.
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Only ever talking to a bank advisor through a screen does sound like an awfully dystopian future. But the silver lining is that by centralizing the bank tellers, banks could offer services for much longer hours, and you'd never need to wait in line to see one of your branch's two tellers ever again.
The ATM will start rolling out this year, as according to NCR "several of the largest banks in the world, along with many community banks, have signed on for initial delivery contracts."