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Super-ATMs Being Rolled Out

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the more-than-just-money-machines dept.


News.com has an article up looking at something I find interesting and somewhat confusing. The Vcom ATM is an attempt to make people's lives more convenient by adding unexpected functionality to the standard Teller Machine. Besides dispensing cash, new ATMs can fulfull the roles of PayPal (by sending money to people), bank (by cashing checks on the spot), and cellphone store (by selling Verizon services). From the article: "The Circle K and Exxon Mobil machines are far more basic than 7-Eleven's Vcoms, which have been called overengineered. Several dozen customers polled informally outside a 7-Eleven in Winter Springs, Fla., recently said that they had never used the Vcom inside, and one woman who said she did use it once to withdraw cash complained that it was 'confusing' and 'complicated,' and added that she would not use it again. 'There were just too many steps,' said the woman, Peggy Baker, who teaches French in Winter Springs. 'And the $1.75 transaction fee was too much--it was painful.' She said she was not interested in the other Vcom features, which require users to enroll and enter a Social Security number on a touch screen."

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In case you want to read it (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 years ago | (#15045069)

TFA [com.com]

Re:In case you want to read it (3, Funny)

Lispy (136512) | about 8 years ago | (#15045087)

You must be new here, nobody actually read TFA. Therefore they just dropped the links altogether.

Re:In case you want to read it (1)

greginnj (891863) | about 8 years ago | (#15045158)

And I'm sure glad the summary cleared up who that anonymous woman was trying out the ATM -- what her name was, where she lived, and what she did for a living. I'd hate to have to drill down to TFA to get that crucial, crucial information.

Are you sure? (3, Funny)

Zen Punk (785385) | about 8 years ago | (#15045072)

If only they had it throw up a windows-like dialog box with "yes" or "no" they could get people to sign their live savings over to 7-11 very easily.

Where's the link (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045074)

Or is that too 'confusing' and 'complicated'?

MacDonalds (5, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | about 8 years ago | (#15045075)

ATMs are the MacDonalds of the banking world.

MacDonalds don't offer slow food.

Making an ATM offer slow services is not a good move; they just won't be used, in exactly the same way that very few people would buy a burger from MacDonalds if it took twenty minutes to cook.

You never been to europe (4, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 8 years ago | (#15045122)

We took the fast out of fast food. In fact the "slow food" places like McD and Burger King are were you probably spend the most time waiting to get your meal.

As for this whole ATM idea that becomes a small store. Well, surely paying your bills through it is only for the poor (else you would just let your bank do it for free) who can only pay with cash. 1.75-3 dollars seems like the extra banks charge here if you want to pay a bill cash as the counter instead of through the mail from your account.

As for other services. Yeah great. Internet access through an ATM? Talk about a waste of hardware. You got a small bank vault, a complex teller machine sitting idle while somebody is browing goatse and 20 fuming customers behind him waiting to withdraw cash?

Couple that with the fact that an awfull lot of people are already confused enough by regular cash dispensers and this sounds like a really bad idea.

Then again what do I know. Maybe people said the same things about the original ATM's.

But 3 dollars for paying a bill. Yikes.

Re:You never been to europe (1)

skam240 (789197) | about 8 years ago | (#15045197)

"We took the fast out of fast food. In fact the "slow food" places like McD and Burger King are were you probably spend the most time waiting to get your meal."

I know I can get a burger one hell of alot faster at a fast food place where I live than the more upscale burger places. I really don't understand that end of your "slow food" metaphore.

As for: "As for other services. Yeah great. Internet access through an ATM? Talk about a waste of hardware. You got a small bank vault, a complex teller machine sitting idle while somebody is browing goatse and 20 fuming customers behind him waiting to withdraw cash?"

While I was in college I lived right down the street from a mini-mart with an atm. Given that I'm prone to late night drinking I used this mini-mart often. The ATM at this place was almost always empty. Furthermore, I cant remember the last time I even waited at an atm outside of the one at my bank. ATMs at mini-marts (in my experience) have alot of down time between customers making this type of serive a very viable way to maximise profits.

Re:You never been to europe (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 8 years ago | (#15045389)

I'm old enough to remember the original ATMs (called Money Access Centers (MAC) at the time BTW). People thought it was a great idea and immediately saw why it would be useful. The concern were all about tellers no longer existing for those transactions that were too complicated. No one thought "why would anyone want that"?

Re:MacDonalds (1)

tpgp (48001) | about 8 years ago | (#15045134)

ATMs are the MacDonalds of the banking world.


The 'product' that you 'buy' at an ATM is exactly the same as what you'd get at a bank, but you get it faster.

The product you buy at MacDonalds is utter crap compared to a real restaurant, but quicker and (for some people) more convenient.

Are you sure you're not really this guy? [slashdot.org]

depends, eh? (1)

SpectralDesign (921309) | about 8 years ago | (#15045154)

Here in Ontario (perhaps in the rest of Canada? I'm new here) there are electronic kiosks where you can do such things as renew your license or registration, change your address, etc... I'm sure there are people afraid to use it, but it's great for those of us who are not technophobic.

I have memories of the DMV in California and spending half-a-day hopping from line-to-line to get simple tasks taken care of. I'll use the kiosk whenever I can!

Later that day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045215)

...SpectralDesign learned that these electronic kiosks were not officially sanctioned machines of convenience, rather an elaborate scheme setup by hackers to harvest personal information, specifically, from Canadian newcomers.

He vowed to never use a computer again.

Re:MacDonalds (2, Funny)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | about 8 years ago | (#15045223)

MacDonalds don't offer slow food.

The fast food company with the golden arches is called McDonald's not MacDonalds. MacDonalds is probably some Irish pub in Boston that takes 30 minutes to serve up your corned beef sandwich. Either way you're wrong.

Even better... (2, Interesting)

Lispy (136512) | about 8 years ago | (#15045078)

The only upgrade I would like to see would be if they made it actually return money. But well, that's just me...

Actually, it's my 20cents. Harhar!

"too many steps"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045089)

Get real - it requires one more step than using any other ATM - the first screen asks what you want to do, you touch atm, then it's exactly the same as any other ATM.

And if $1.75 is too steep, then I need to move to Florida. I don't recall seeing anything below $1.50 lately at any ATM other than my bank.


Re:"too many steps"? (5, Informative)

hattig (47930) | about 8 years ago | (#15045130)

I've seen ATMs offer mobile phone top ups for quite a while, which is probably useful if you have a pre-pay mobile.

Anything else takes too long - when there's a queue you aren't going to live long if you start using slow specialist services.

I also happen to think that charging people to get access to their own money is a bit rich, but luckily I'm in the UK so all the standard bank and building society cash machines are free regardless of who you bank with. Going abroad is always a shock though, because we're used to withdrawing smaller amounts of money more frequently than large amounts of money infrequently.

"too many steps"?-Roaming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045164)

"I also happen to think that charging people to get access to their own money is a bit rich"

No. You get charged for going outside your network. My bank doesn't charge me for using their ATM's. The main reason I don't use them more often is that the minimumn you can take out is a bit big $20. The other is that all the other services I use are online.

Re:"too many steps"?-Roaming. (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 8 years ago | (#15045345)

Here in the UK the banks actually did something useful for their customers some years ago - they set up one big network just for cash machines, called it "Link" and allow anyone to use a bank-owned Link cash machine free of charge.

Pretty much every cash machine has a "link" symbol on it.

The big issue at the moment is small cash machines appearing in pubs, clubs and shops which charge (generally about £1.50 per transaction). I don't have a problem with it, as I live in a city so I'm never that far away from a cash machine which doesn't charge. But there are areas (and they're apparently becoming larger) where there are no bank-owned cash machines for miles around, and the formerly bank-owned machines (often at petrol stations or leisure parks) are being sold to the companies that charge a fee.

Literal Identity Theft (4, Funny)

Scoria (264473) | about 8 years ago | (#15045093)

enter a Social Security number on a touch screen.

A masked thief enters a convenience store. The cashier tells him to take whatever he wants, but is surprised when he opens the ATM, removes a hard disk drive, and runs up to the cashier. He shouts, "I own you!"

The cashier says, "No! I meant that you could take anything but me!"

Super-ATM? It exists for ages (5, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | about 8 years ago | (#15045096)

I don't see how they can be considered "super-ATMs". I'm from Portugal, which isn't a tech superpower, and in here the regular ATMs offer that kind of service since the early 90s.

Checks? How cute.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045131)

Do they still use *checks* in the US? I mean, they haven't heard of wire transfers and online banking? Seriuosly, how do people receive their wages or pay their rent there? By CHECKS?

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045140)

Yep. Same in Germany and France, most ATMs do this kind of stuff. Obviously for free, not charging you $1.75 for those basic services.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15045450)

Depends on your account, some banks have accounts where you have to pay a few cents for making transactions on these machines.

BTW, the transaction systems 'round here run on Windows ME.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045152)

Except, of course, that nobody uses checks anymore and just transfers the money from one bank account to the other. Can anybody tell me an advantage of using checks?

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

megla (859600) | about 8 years ago | (#15045157)

The advantage is that you can physically hand them off to someone.
They are still used in the UK to some extent, although not for anything like wages - well, not from a reputable workplace anyway!!
Generally they're used to transfer small sums to private individuals. For example, I just paid a £50 deposit for a student house next year by cheque. However, I'll be paying the rent by standing order from my bank account. The cheque was just easier for a one time small payment.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

coffeechica (948145) | about 8 years ago | (#15045188)

I can physically hand cash off to someone. For larger sums that wouldn't work, but anything under 100 Euro isn't a problem. I've been given one cheque in my entire life, and that was a somewhat extraordinary situation.

How often are they used? I find the whole concept fascinating, in a "I didn't think this still exists" kind of way. And why not use cash? 50 pound doesn't sound like a sum I'd be reluctant to carry around.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045190)

Well, you can safely mail checks to people, you shouldn't do that with cash. However, by the time you've written the address on the envelope, found a stamp etc... I dont' see how checks could possibly have any advantage over transferring the money to the recepient's account.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

coffeechica (948145) | about 8 years ago | (#15045226)

That's exactly it. So unless bank accounts aren't common, I honestly don't see the point. Especially since checks can get lost in the mail, while transfers are traceable through the bank. It's a security issue.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

Zen Punk (785385) | about 8 years ago | (#15045198)

Are you guys serious? Yes, we use "cheques" all the time in the U.S. I get my wages in a check, I pay the rent with a check, etc. I do use a debit card for most purchases, though.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (2, Informative)

coffeechica (948145) | about 8 years ago | (#15045222)

Absolutely serious. I've got a bank account and use transfers for pretty much everything, from the phone bill to electricity to payments to Amazon. My wages get paid into that accout. And for everyday money I use either cash or my debit card, since you can pay with that at most shops. I use online banking regularly, so my bank sees me maybe once a month, if that. And even then I use the ATMs instead of the teller, unless I need something more complicated. I honestly cannot think of a single instance where I'd need to use a check/cheque/however you want to spell it.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (2, Interesting)

hanssprudel (323035) | about 8 years ago | (#15045225)

Are you guys serious? Yes, we use "cheques" all the time in the U.S. I get my wages in a check, I pay the rent with a check, etc. I do use a debit card for most purchases, though.

Yes, they are most probably serious. I am equally surpised every time I hear americans talk about checks. For me it is a novelty from a past age: you might as well be saying you have to talk to your money scrivener and goldsmith about payments.

I get my salary via a transfer into my bank account. Even if I had not (for convenience) given my employers my account number for the direct transfer, I would get it as a payment through a clearance service. Likewise I pay my rent through a direct monthly transaction from my bank account, but if I hadn't set that up I could have done via bills paid directly through my Internet bank account (larger companies can send it as an online bill, so I don't even get a paper bill cluddering my mailbox every month). I pay my other bills (electricity, broadband, etc in the same way).

Beyond that I have a debit card and a charge card for purchases, and cash for small private transactions. What would I need checks for?

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (2, Interesting)

beeblebrox87 (234597) | about 8 years ago | (#15045274)

I'm studying at university in the UK, and there are still occasional situations when one needs to use a cheque. I had to pay my tuition bill with a cheque (since the university is not willing to pay the transaction fees involved in debit card or bank transfer payments) and was paid by cheque when I sold an old computer to a friend, but aside from such rare situations I never use cheques. My parents live in the US and tell me they hardly ever use cheques either, their salaries are deposited into their bank accounts and they pay their bills with their bank's online bill-pay feature. Not sure what all the USians here are talking about, cheques seem to be dead almost everywhere.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

hanssprudel (323035) | about 8 years ago | (#15045322)

I had to pay my tuition bill with a cheque (since the university is not willing to pay the transaction fees involved in debit card or bank transfer payments)

People who make such arguments are usually fooling themselves (especially for large, rare transactions like University tuition). The truth is that the processing time of handling all the checks probably costs a lot more then the transaction fees would. Unless they are making the grad students do it or something, your university would be better off with electronic transactions.

Same thing with stores that won't accept (or charge a surcharge) for paying with a card. In fact the costs of cash handling are much larger then what the cc companies charge, they are just not as visible.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15045484)

I had to pay my tuition bill with a cheque (since the university is not willing to pay the transaction fees involved in debit card or bank transfer payments)

I think there we've got the culprit, transaction fees are usually less than 20 cents, free for some account types and paid by the sender here in Germany. I.e. they wouldn't have to pay anything to receive your money.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (2, Informative)

ahillen (45680) | about 8 years ago | (#15045257)

Are you guys serious?

Yes. The last time I wrote a check was probably some time in the end (or middle?) of the 80s, when I had just gotten my bank account and ATMs were not that common. Then I had to fill out a check to get money from my bank account. Since then, I never wrote a check. If I want to give money to other people, I either give it cash or transfer it from bank account to bank account electronically. The later I can do either online, by telephone, or at some ATM-like machines at the bank (I could also go to the bank during the opening hours, of course, fill out a form and give it to some employ/throw it in a letter box). But sending checks? Never, seriously. My wage is transfered to my bank account, my rent is transfered from my bank account...

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

wfberg (24378) | about 8 years ago | (#15045302)

Are you guys serious? Yes, we use "cheques" all the time in the U.S. I get my wages in a check, I pay the rent with a check, etc. I do use a debit card for most purchases, though.

Yeah, these guys are serious. Just to give an example; the "Eurocheque" was abolished in 2002 (along with the introduction of the Euro coinage) to not much fanfare; most countries had already given up on the scheme in the 1990s. Currently, no bank in my country (be it a small country; The Netherlands) offers cheques. The vast majority of point-of-sale transactions are by debit card, except for small amounts (EUR 10) or with merchants who don't have a debit card terminal (which is getting increasingly rare, even pizza delivery boys are getting issued with mobile terminals).

From the 1990s on, checks were used mostly because, unlike in the US, they were "covered" up to EUR 500; they didn't bounce - so people would use them as a line of credit those last few days in the month before your wages come through.

Bills are still invoiced with a preprinted money-order attached, but it's more convenient to just type over the ID number on your bank's e-banking site, or to tell the company to use direct debit.

All recurring stuff just gets credited and debited to my account automatically.

Actually, a lot of Europeans (myself included) get a bit puzzled when USians mention checks all the time. Or with the concept of a "checking account". Why would you want a checking account? Nobody uses checks, and you get a debit card and internet banking with your regular account right? "Billpay" services would be even more alien to Europeans..

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

RandomJoe (814420) | about 8 years ago | (#15045343)

They are still fairly common, although it seems to be dwindling in some areas.

My pay is deposited directly to my account, but the company still sends me a "statement" that is identical to the checks they used to send, except it now has "Non-Negotiable" stamped across it. I use online bill-paying for the most part, but two of my bills are actually mailed by my credit union as checks instead of EFTs! But it's no fee to me, and I don't have to buy stamps.

Anymore I still write one check per month - for the mortgage. If I were just paying minimum on it, I would pay it online as well, but I'm paying it down with a large and variable dollar amount each month so I prefer to write a check on which I can detail how I want the transaction applied, along with the payment slip from the mortgage company.

One reason I took so long to use online or auto-payment is that so many companies and utilities here have such an idiotic way of viewing the "service". While THEY should be hoping to get everyone using it since it lowers their costs not having to deal with the flood of checks each month, instead they charge fees "because it's a convenience to the customer". Fortunately, most have figured this out and dropped the fee, and now that my CU provides free bill-pay (used to be $5/month!) I can pay anyone that way.

I am curious - several people mention just transferring money directly between accounts. So if you are doing a private sale with someone, not at a store, for - say - $2000, does the payee give you their account number to do the transfer? Or is there some mechanism in place to handle this we don't have? I wouldn't care too much for handing out my account number to people! My debit card doesn't use my account number, but I can't use it in a private transaction. Wire transfers were also mentioned, but when I checked into doing that it's a royal pain at least with my bank. (Requires I physically go there, first of all! ;)

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

coffeechica (948145) | about 8 years ago | (#15045372)

I bought a used car only a few months ago. The seller gave me her account number, I transferred the money, and as soon as it reached her account we had it settled. Banks will undo transfers for up to six weeks, so as long as you check your list of transfers regularly, the risk is minimal. In cases like a car sale I'd have no qualms about it. I know who the other party is, after all, so if my number is abused afterwards, I know who is responsible. And at least in my country you cannot draw a transfer from another account without the account owner's signature.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

wertarbyte (811674) | about 8 years ago | (#15045460)

Banks will undo transfers for up to six weeks, so as long as you check your list of transfers regularly, the risk is minimal.

There is a slight misconception here, at leat here in germany: If you initiate the transfer to another account yourself ("Überweisung"), the transfer cannot be undone by the bank. But if you give someone the permission to retrieve money from your account ("Einzugsermächtigung"/"Lastschrift"), you can cancel that transfer up to six weeks after it happened. To pull money from other people's accounts you need to have a special contract with your bank, so they will get suspicious if there are a lot of transfers bounce back.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

kemichail (965347) | about 8 years ago | (#15045370)

I'd say cash is unpopular in the U.S., almost none of my friends or aquaintainces ever pay with it. Debit cards seem most popular. If you pay attention to the news, you'll notice that anyone here who pays for anything that costs more than a couple hundred in cash raises 'terrorist' or 'criminal' suspicions.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

megla (859600) | about 8 years ago | (#15045394)

Cheques are traceable.
Every cheque has is unique (a combination of a specific cheque number and the account number), and the cheque number will appear on a bank statement when the money is taken. They can also be cancelled if you think you've issued one in error.
So in short, with my previous example, the landlord cannot say he hasn't recieved the deposit from me, because I have a bank statement with a record of the cheque which I gave to him being paid out.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

coffeechica (948145) | about 8 years ago | (#15045404)

You get the same benefits with bank transfers, though. So I wouldn't consider this a benefit of cheques. Unless it's a matter of writing them out on the spot, I honestly don't see the advantage. Especially since you need a bank account anyway.

Culture clash, I guess.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045518)

With some banks, you can also do transfers on the spot with your WAP/XHTML-capable cellphone, essentially the same as over their websites or "home banking" applications.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | about 8 years ago | (#15045396)

although not for anything like wages - well, not from a reputable workplace anyway!!

That's interesting; in the States the majority of small businesses still pay their wages via business checks. Some of the tech savvy ones do direct deposit, but the impression I get (from various employers) is that it's more trouble than its worth to get the payroll information to the bank, rather than work it out in a few minutes on an Excel spreadsheet and write/print checks.

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

seasunset (469481) | about 8 years ago | (#15045237)

At least in something we can say we have the best system in the world.

We can do things like:

Pay for almost anything like electricity, social security, taxes, mobile phones, tution fees, rent, ...

Buy a train ticket

Buy a ticket to most of big shows.

See the last ~15 account changes.

Get a temporary credit card number to use on the Internet with a small amount of money (so if someone gets the number after usage, its useless as it has no money on it).

Do money transfers (not international).

And lots of other things I can't remember now.

The bad thing is that sometimes there are people that spend like 10 minutes in a machine paying all their bills.

The system is uniform across all banks (although most banks also offer their own ATM system in parallel)

There are no usage fees (altough they are trying to introduce fees if you use an ATM not from your bank)

Re:Super-ATM? It exists for ages (1)

dreemkill (170748) | about 8 years ago | (#15045417)

i agree, this is "news"? my credit union offers ATMs that do this same sort of thing (exception of the paypal sending, at least that i know of) for years.
at their ATM, i could take out 12.76 if i wanted to.. then feed a check into the reader, which would then scan the document, you confirm the amount and voila.

nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (4, Funny)

toomanyhandles (809578) | about 8 years ago | (#15045108)

Can they set them up to handle the voting booth tasks? It seems the same companies that make these reliable, traceable units, just can't figure out how to make a voting console properly. Merging the two could solve the USA's current problems with (apparantly) rigged elections.

Re:nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (3, Funny)

sjg (957424) | about 8 years ago | (#15045165)

That will never happen, unfortunately. I recently asked a friend why we don't just hold elections online, surely that could be done. To my surprise his immediate response was well thought out and eloquent, I won't do it justice, but the jist is.. If citizens can very easily just vote on issues from home, then why is there a need for decision makers in government at all? So once you allow everyone to vote from home, you open yourself up to that. Once you remove all the decision makers, you end up with a government totally run by committee (in this case, the American people). Not only would this not be a good thing (as anyone who has heard a "designed by committee" software engineering crack can understand), but with the racket that US politics has become, the politicians and those financing them will never allow this to happen. It becomes too hard to stack the deck in your favor.

Re:nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (1)

toomanyhandles (809578) | about 8 years ago | (#15045176)

I'm not sure this would be the same as voting from home or online...

In many states now, people drive to the electronic voting booths that currently do not work (recall the posting here from a few weeks back, looking at the Florida votes, some were cast at midnight, some days ahead, etc).

I'd drive to a system that worked, paper or electronic. In fact, I have to already. I just want the damn thing to work, and not continue to fake and rig elections.

Re:nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 years ago | (#15045174)

Merging the two could solve the USA's current problems with (apparantly) rigged elections.

Voting at a cash dispenser seems a bit dangerous. What if a vote for a certain party causes an "accidental" buffer overflow and spits out money?

Re:nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (1)

toomanyhandles (809578) | about 8 years ago | (#15045183)


I know: it's good patriotic capitalism. Cutting out the middleman etc. Those middlemen always get caught, squeal, and ruin everything for the rest.

Re:nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (1)

hey! (33014) | about 8 years ago | (#15045378)

Can they set them up to handle the voting booth tasks? It seems the same companies that make these reliable, traceable units, just can't figure out how to make a voting console properly.

I hadn't really thought of this until your post prompted me, but this is the theory under which you'd buy a voting machine from an ATM company isn't it? You would think that designing a system that can give away cash and take money out of people's accounts without human intervention would give a company the appropriate attitude and skills for creating voting machines.

The difference though is that a buck is a buck, and ten bucks is always worth ten times as much as one buck. Many substantial financial systems are successfull with only rather flimsy security: the money to be made running them dwarfs the cost of absorbing the fraud. Tightening the system's security would either cost more than the fraud, make the system harder to market, or both. So you rake in the dough, shell out a bit here and there for fraud, and jump on the people doing the fraud when you can catch them. Companies have made massive profits on ATM systems which were shipped with enormous security vulnerabilites. The whole credit card system is the same: trust is a good bet because the volume of legitimate transactions dwarfs the volume of fraud.

Voting is much different than this. All votes are not equal, and ten votes aren't always worth ten times one vote. For example in a tight race, a lost vote is worth a lot more than in a landslide. In a multiway race, switching votes between the top two candidates has a much greater impact than switching between #3 and #4. The US presidential election is the greatest example, in which a handful of votes can swing the entire electoral weight of an entire state.

It follows that voting has a MUCH HIGHER level of security required in voting than in dispensing cash, because a tiny amount of fraud can have large consequences. It's the kind of thing you really can't afford to get wrong. The kind company you need is not the one that knows how to make the kind of trade offs you need to make a practical financial system. You'd want the kind of company you'd trust to do things like design a system to secure sensitive military data transfer.

Re:nice features, one more needed: voting booth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045519)

And you could set them up at local 7-11 and gas stations, increasing voter turnout!

"Thank you! Vote again!"

Make us pay for your ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045120)

'And the $1.75 transaction fee was too much--it was painful.'

Oh sure, make us pay for the convenience of you being able to hawk all your wares through one endpoint.

Social Security number? (2, Insightful)

Walzmyn (913748) | about 8 years ago | (#15045128)

SS Number? I give that to no one unless they are paying into the system for me - ie. my boss. It ticks off a lot of doctors offices when that box is blank but when I ask 'em why they need to know it they just stare at me.

I'd just as soon not have one at all, but I'm sure not pluging it into an ATM.

Cashing checks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045133)

ATMS have always cashed checks. You deposit the check, then you take the money back out of your account. How is this any different?

Re:Cashing checks? (2, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | about 8 years ago | (#15045224)

that only works if you have

1: an account
2: either sufficiant funds or sufficant overdraft facility to cover the cash withdrawl.
3: an atm that supports deposits (do most us atms do so? i know most in the uk don't seem to)

i presume by check cashing they are reffering more to the service you get from places like pawnbrokers who will give you cash and then essentially lend you the money until the check clears (for a fee ofc)

Re:Cashing checks? (1)

muftak (636261) | about 8 years ago | (#15045289)

how would the ATM know that it is not a forged/fake cheque? when you put a cheque into your account it is checked manually and they don't let you take the money out untill it clears (i onced told the ATM i'd put in a cheque for £50,000, just to see what would happen)

Everyone uses the VCom's (1)

sjg (957424) | about 8 years ago | (#15045143)

I live in south Florida (Fort Lauderdale), where there is a 7/11 on every corner, and a VCom inside every single one of them. There is someone using the machine pretty much every time I walk into any of the neighborhood 7/11's (daily). Seems the white-collar's withdraw cash, and the blue-collar's cash checks. I can't say as I have seen anyone pay their bills or whatnot with one, however.

Sorry, didn't RTFA (5, Informative)

bazorg (911295) | about 8 years ago | (#15045159)

Over here in Portugal we have a company called SIBS [www.sibs.pt] which is owned by a consortium of banks. They're in charge of managing the network of ATM and the services provided to other companies through those machines.

Possibly the best single feature they rolled out was to make available ATM payments to just about any company wiling to sign up. The first adopters were the utilities companies, that because of this now have less offices and "point of sale" than needed 20 years ago. Today any company can become a client of SIBS and get a 5-number code to be its ID. This ID will be printed on invoices along with another number, which identifies the transaction. Anyone can use an ATM to pay the invoice. Just type in these 2 codes, the amount to be transfered and you're done. The receipt will be printed out and for some services (ie: mobile phone top-ups) you get to see the effect within a couple of seconds.

Building on this basic operation, many companies hired the services of SIBS to add their own menus and sub-menus on the ATMs, so these days there is a quite a lot of stuff you can do:

  • buy concert tickets
  • buy train tickets
  • make bank transfers
  • allow/change permissions for automatic payments from your account (ie: allow the water bill to be paid without confirmation)
  • top up mobile phones
  • pay public transport monthly tickets . this one had some extra work: the public transport tickets have to get in the ATM so their chip gets read/written. They're similar to London's Oyster cards
and so on. overall it's pretty cool and has been working for a while now, that's why I'm surprised that adding bank transfers to ATM operations (in the US?) makes the news on /. in 2006. A few years ago, as banks started to have www-based services, new forms of login information were added to allow people to do at home most of these things, except getting cash out of your printer :)

Re:Sorry, didn't RTFA (1)

ondasmom (677343) | about 8 years ago | (#15045470)

Seems to me that a lot of these services are things many of us do on -line from home (and at work) in the US, and that we would look at the various services described above differently if the first point for access had been an ATM rather than a home or work computer.

Security (5, Insightful)

zaguar (881743) | about 8 years ago | (#15045168)

I'm sorry, but I don't want to shop at my ATM. I want to do one thing - Deposit and withdraw money. I don't want a media center running on the latest and greatest OS - with the latest exploits included (free of charge)

Mind you, that would be the only thing banks provide free these days.

Re:Security (1)

True Dork (8000) | about 8 years ago | (#15045233)

Thank you. That was the first thought that went through my mind too. With all the security problems, (slightly) amusing BSODs, students getting Windows Media Player running, etc I don't like the idea either. Just the mention of PayPal brought the image of the back end being Internet links (probably live IPs too) which should terrify us all.

Re:Security (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | about 8 years ago | (#15045246)

Well, nobody really forces you to. Those basic features are still there, and usually at 5 button strokes away (4 for the pin and 1 for the amount you want to withdraw.)
All the other features are just a plus, and very nice to have (namely inter-bank transfers and services payments.)
About the media center, funny you mention it, whereas 15 years ago it would be common to see a DOS prompt in some machines (really!), nowadays you get some BSODs. Hilarious...

Re:Security (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15045464)

"I'm sorry, but I don't want to shop at my ATM. I want to do one thing - Deposit and withdraw money."

I understand and agree with your comments about exploits. I don't want those either. But this statement that I quoted here, well I just don't agree with that. I buy stamps at the ATM all the time. Another poster said that ATMs where he lives can be used to pay off utility companies. I wouldn't mind that, either. (Admittedly, though, I typically use the internet for this so I cannot say I'm dying for it.) Just using a little imagination here, I can see purchasing movie tickets at an ATM. Does the world need it? Nah. But I'm sure that's the sort of thing I'd use once or twice.

I agree that there's little need for a multi-media show when using ATMs, but there is something to be said for the convenience of getting other things done with an ATM.

$1.75 (2, Interesting)

od05 (915556) | about 8 years ago | (#15045171)

$1.75 is not terribly bad, in Chicago you can't find a single ATM for less than $2.00.

Re:$1.75 (1)

Will Fisher (731585) | about 8 years ago | (#15045287)

Anything more than $0 is bad IMO.

In the UK most ATMs are free, and I refuse to use the ones that charge.

My bank is already making money on the intrest I earn/pay, why should I have to pay to take out my own money?

Re:$1.75 (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 8 years ago | (#15045362)


No, I won't use cash machines that charge. I also don't use petrol stations that have night pay windows - let me in the damn shop, or you don't get my business. I'm a customer, so don't treat me as a criminal.

Re:$1.75 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045522)

I agree. Here in Canada, there's a big push by all the places to have ATM machines (other than banks) to replace them with these asshole 'white label' machines, which ding you $1.50 - $2.00 per transaction, because a share of it goes to the asshole store the machine is sitting in. As well, I've seen branded Bank of Montreal machines that still charge you $1.50 (this is in addition to the Interac fee, which is $1.00 or $1.50) per withdrawl.

If you have a white label machine, I won't shop there. If you charge a 'fee' at the debit machine at the cash ($0.25 usually), I won't shop there. Go cry at the unemployment line, opportunistic assholes.

Social Security Legalities? (2)

Khyber (864651) | about 8 years ago | (#15045184)

Having RTFA I don't see mention on the main reason for inputting a SSN. Last I checked, The SSN is NOT VALID to be used as a form of identification (even though we all know we're branded and identified by this number by our government overlords.) When are we going to finally stand up to these invasive bastards?

Re:Social Security Legalities? (1)

plbland (922595) | about 8 years ago | (#15045232)

Surely it's just an effective unique ID which everyone has? Whats with the paranoia these days? :p

Re:Social Security Legalities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045305)

The "paranoia" is exactly because the SSN is an ID. If somebody gets yours, they can effectively become you. They can apply for credit in your name. Have you not heard of ID theft?

Canada (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 years ago | (#15045185)

In canada, when you use your banks atm machines, you can cash cheques, pay bills, do almost anything you can do at a teller. The only reason I even go to the teller anymore is to get coins. There's still the need for money orders, and other things that only tellers can do, but those reasons are getting fewer and fewer. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. It's a lot more convenient to be able to get go up to a machine 24 hours a day and do your banking. but then again it's lost jobs for those people working as tellers.

OMG!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045220)

Where have all the PONEYS gone??!?! Don't tell me it wasn't for real!!1 :~( *cry*

gay? (0, Offtopic)

DJRikki (646184) | about 8 years ago | (#15045281)

Whats with everything on /. being tagged gay ? Someone needing to vent their sexual frustrations or something?!


Surveys are often as dense as granite (4, Informative)

tinkertim (918832) | about 8 years ago | (#15045350)

VCom machines make a fortune from people who normally do not hold bank accounts. The check cashing is ideal for people who work the swing shift and miss most of the check cashing joints an liquor stores.

Many people who don't have a bank account also pay their bills via western union, either a moneygram or purchasing money orders to mail off to someone , or drop in the rent box on the way home.

These people really don't give a rat's ass who gets their social security number, they hope whoever steals it manages to pay off their bills and fix their credit score.

They also don't care about the $1.75 fee, as most people who appreciate the machines don't in fact use the ATM feature.

Vcom cornered a market nobody else has been able to touch. There's a 7-11 in every blue collar neighborhood in most first , and third world countries and those things are popping up globally.

So .. as the game show used to say .. 'SURVEY SAYS' -> once again, nothing useful because the people surveying are just too dense to realize exactly who these things were designed to serve.

Rather swift marketing imho :)

Technology for everyone (1)

base_chakra (230686) | about 8 years ago | (#15045526)

So .. as the game show used to say .. 'SURVEY SAYS' -> once again, nothing useful because the people surveying are just too dense to realize exactly who these things were designed to serve.

Well, this is exactly the sort of technology that should be designed—ideally—to serve every consumer. Another slashdotter compared ATM technology with McDonalds restaurants. That's an apt comparison on multiple levels, since McDonalds kitchens are designed toward the ultimate goal of intuitive, self-explanatory technology with no learning curve whatsoever. For an closer analog (i.e., a computerized kiosk that really does aspire to this level of lowest-common-denominator appeal and user-friendliness), study modern video poker and video slot machines.

As for the informal survey results, this is what one gets when a survey yields quasi-useful responses from one person; with all due respect to Peggy Baker, we need just a few more views before we go publishing "survey" results. Actually, the article [com.com] also mentions another (tiny) survey of Australian Vcom ATM users that yielded some insights representing a viewpoint diametrically opposed to the one represented by Ms. Baker. Not surprisingly, it seems as though the article's author wants to make this seem like a case in which users are polarly divided.

I'd settle for better basic functions (5, Interesting)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 8 years ago | (#15045395)

Every time I go to my bank's ATM I withdraw $300. To do this, they make me hit "withdraw money", then hit "from checking", then present me with several pre-selected amount buttons all below $200 which makes me hit "other amount", then I hit 3-0-0-0-0-ENTER, then I hit "confirm with receipt". Message to the bank: how about if you customize my options so that one of the first buttons I have the option of hitting reads "withdraw $300 like you have every time you've been here in the past ten years". I'd really like to hit just one button instead of ten. Doesn't seem like rocket science.

Re:I'd settle for better basic functions (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045487)

Chase (BankOne) ATMs have a feature just as you describe. You can set a "preferred fast cash amount." You enter your pin, and instead of hitting enter, you hit the "fast cash" button. It will validate your pin, and dispense your fast-cash amount (and will automatically print a receipt without prompting for it, if you have customized that setting too.)

I'm actually very happy with how functional the Chase ATMs are here in Chicago... except for that one time I saw a malfunctioning ATM that actually had a windows start menu/task bar displayed over top of the ATM software screens... That one kind of scared me... I decided to use a different ATM that evening...

Of course you can't VOTE with it, because.... (1)

CFD339 (795926) | about 8 years ago | (#15045414)

....according to Diebold, maker of millions of ATM's and some very bad voting machines, it isn't possible for them to create a voting machine which prints a receipt.

Logic says then, that if these machines can print receipts, they cannot be voting machines. QED.

Why do we always need technology? (1)

tarks (529856) | about 8 years ago | (#15045462)

What's the advantage of these super-atms? I'd much prefer a bank with real people, enough counters and reasonable opening hours (like 6am to 10pm or some such). Why do I have to know PINs and TANs? Where is the service in our "service oriented" society. That does not rule out the occaisonal basic atm for when I need money at 2am.

Now I need to do everything on my own plus I am to a large degree responsible for a lot of security issues that simply would not exist if I could deal with a real person that would know me personally in no time.

Some time ago I pondered wether it would be an improvement in this direction if one seperated the front end business from the back end. I.e. Have several companies that are solely responsibel for the customer interaction for all banks and let the actual banks only offer their products (accounts, fonts, etc.)

That way this front end companies had an interest in providing a good customer experience and the actual banks had to make good offer too, because knowledgeable people at the front end would be the one that choose what is appropriate.

just my 2 euro cent

Mother Necessity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15045468)

Is this really necessary? I hope I'm not sounding like an old timer, but do we really need these fancy new ATMs?

Security risk (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 8 years ago | (#15045473)

The more LOCs and functionality one of these has, the more potential for security holes. I'd go out of my way to avoid one of these.

Hidden Agenda? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 8 years ago | (#15045476)

Perhaps if you make getting cash just too hard for the average joe, you can wean the public off of those little anonymous bills.

Once you do, you can more easily track the money flow, to catch those pesky terrorists.

further complication (1)

mumblingrepublican (965314) | about 8 years ago | (#15045496)

The whole thing is further complicated by my inability to find a 7-11 in Minneapolis or St. Paul... I was curious if it poops out a cellphone if you sign up for Verizon?

Ever been to Japan? (3, Interesting)

benher (948132) | about 8 years ago | (#15045533)

I'm with the Europe folks on this one - This is really only news for Americans. Here in Japan, ATMs have had this sort of functionality via the Postal Savings system for years. That, and most ATMs at convenient stores can be used to pay utilities, purchase tickets, and a hoard of other services. Maybe US banks just don't feel any pressure to innovate. Hell, in comparison to the rest of the world in terms of a user experience it's not even innovation - it's catch-up.
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