Automated Teller Machine technology is a whole lot more advanced than many people realise.
While ATMs already let you withdraw money, check your balance, change your PIN and even deposit money in some cases, they could also issue you a new debit card in the future.
In fact, US based PNC Financial Services Group recently announced that it was considering offering debit cards to customer through its ATM network, but has some reservations about this option.
“We’re playing with a technology to issue cards out of an ATM,” CEO William Demchak admits at a Pittsburgh Technology Council breakfast in August. “But would it make customers nervous?”
That is the key question for any debit card issuer that’s looking at including this new ATM feature in its range of services – and there are both pros and cons for customers.
On the positive side, being able to get a new debit card at an ATM could mean you can replace lost or stolen plastic with brand new options whenever the need arises, which is a huge bonus if you’re not near a branch, don’t want to deal with a teller or find your card missing after branch hours.
It could also make it easier to apply for new debit card options and activate accounts. From a bank’s perspective, this option could even work as a sales pitch: if the software was updated to allow people to apply for new accounts through an ATM, they could get new customers just by updating their ATMs.
Plus, transport companies in Australia are already using card-issuing machines, like Melbourne’s Myki, which issues transport cards at almost every train station and many other public transport hubs. So it’s not as if getting a card from a machine is a foreign concept here.
But on the other hand, issuing debit cards through an ATM brings up a whole range of new security issues. How would account-holders verify themselves? Could criminals hack the system? And what about ATM skimming devices?
While PNC is clearly considering whether or not customers would be comfortable with getting a debit card through an ATM, the bank does seem to think it is safe.
PNC’s headquarters already has several ATMs issuing debit cards within its headquarters building, indicating some investment in this technology as a way forward.
Could ATMs Kill Bank Branches?
One of the biggest questions being asked about this technology is how it would affect branch services if ATMs were another way to get a new debit card.
In the case of PNC, Demchak has indicated the feature would simply be another option for the more tech-savvy customers, rather than a phasing out of staff-based service centres.
“We now have 45 percent of our retail customers who are primarily digital or non-branch users,” he explains.
“That said, branch location is the No. 1 reason people chose a bank. If something goes wrong, they can come in and yell at someone. But we have all these product that people don’t use anymore. We need to build the digital around what you used to do when you walked into a branch.”
As far as Australian debit card issuers are concerned, some major banks like ANZ are already shifting towards more mobile customer service options (but still with actual people, as opposed to just ATMs). This move suggests banks do see the value in offering more electronic banking options but also realise some customers want face-to-face interaction.
When it comes to issuing debit cards, however, most Australian banks still send them in the mail.
ATM issuing, then, could speed up the process of getting a new card and also reduce the risk of debit card fraud due to mail theft – which police believe is on the rise due to contactless technology.
At this stage, ATMs that issue debit cards are a long way off from a common option in the US, and probably even further away in Australia.
But PNC has revealed that it clearly is a possibility many banks are considering. So reading about this technology and weighing up the potential benefits and disadvantages now means that you will be able to decide whether or not you want to use an ATM that issues debit cards in the future.
What’s more is that even if the next generation of ATMs doesn’t offer this service, you will be more aware of potential changes and security issues that could arise as the services your bank offers continue to evolve.