The little money machine on the street corner is about to get a serious makeover. Since 1959, the public has counted on the ATM for simple banking transactions that don’t require a visit to the actual bank. We’ve been depositing money in envelopes and taking cash (usually in increments of $20) from the machines’ slots with relative ease for years, and for the most part, we haven’t been dreaming about the future of the ATM. After all, what more could those familiar dispensers have to offer us? Well, we’ll get a chance to find out very soon.
According to a recent CNN Money article, Bank of America is getting ready to introduce the Teller Assist Machine, a new ATM featuring a high-tech user interface that opens up a world of new possibilities. For one thing, you won’t have to read all your account information on a tiny screen anymore. Instead, you’ll be able to speak with human customer service agents via video chat, and they’ll be able to help you do everything that an traditional teller can. You’ll be able to make transfers, deposits, withdrawals and even account information adjustments simply by walking down to the convenience store and telling the face on the screen what you want.
But video-chatting isn’t the only new feature. You’ll also be able to receive exact change when cashing checks. That may have sounded like crazy talk just a few years ago, but the new machines will let you withdraw a specific sum from the slot, right down to the last penny. It’s a convenience we never expected from a machine that up till now has been good at one thing only – spitting out $20 bills. Nobody was even thinking about it. But nobody’s complaining, either. It’s a nice surprise.
A new era is dawning, it would seem. While we’ve adapted to our wired world, most of still feel, deep down, that we’ve lost something along the way. We don’t like computerized phone menus. We shout verbal orders at crippled electronic intelligences through our newfangled cellular ear trumpets, carefully enunciating each syllable. But BoA sees that the people are down with the online banking trend – a mature, hassle-free service – and apparently it wants to give us even more.
It pains us to say what we’re about to say. It’s hard to say it. We can’t possibly say it, can we? Well, here we go. Thanks, Bank of America. Tomorrow we’ll clock back in and get right back to playing Sam the Sheepdog to your Ralph the Wolf.
The new Teller Assist machines are currently being test-run in select Boston branches according to a NYT blog post, and Atlanta will see a few in the coming weeks. If all goes well, then Teller Assist machines will soon be popping up all over the country, and eventually the world. And there are even more upgrades on the horizon. Eventually, Teller Assist machines may allow you to pay single deposits into multiple accounts, or to pay off loan and credit card balances. That sounds pretty good to us.
The ATM is a convenience service that hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. But the future is here – and judging by all the bells and whistles, we can look forward to an on-the-go banking experience that’s more comprehensive than ever. Are you excited for Bank of America’s new Teller Assist machine? Could you care less? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.