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Depositing at ATMs

Too scared to deposit a check in an ATM?

Don't want to wonder if a living, breathing bank employee will find your check and credit your account? Or wonder what happens if you say the check was there and they say it wasn't? You're not alone. When it comes to the popularity of banking transactions, ATM deposits are the wallflowers at the ball.

"Only about 10 percent to 12 percent of ATM transactions are deposits, so you know people aren't comfortable with it," says Bill Allen, a director at NCR, a company that makes ATMs.

A lack of familiarity among banking customers may be why those who fearlessly do slip checks into ATMs often wonder whether a machine will take their deposit, or if they'll have to pay a fee, or when their money will be available.

"Most people are taking cash out of ATMs, not putting it in," says Tom Kelly, spokesman at Chicago banking giant Bank One.

Bank One has about 1,000 ATMs in the Chicago area, and about half take deposits.

While that may or may not mean that some Bank One customers have to go out of their way to find a deposit-taking ATM, it's definitely tougher for Chicagoans who don't have an account at Bank One. The bank recently barred noncustomers from making deposits at Bank One ATMs.

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"What's the point of serving noncustomers," Kelly asks. "We don't do it at the teller window, why at the ATM? If they find our machines convenient, they can open an account."

Even in the world of online banking where, presumably, customers are more trusting of technology, the demand for ATM depositing is spotty.

Virtual Bank doesn't accept deposits by ATM, according to Grace Dahl, vice president of bank operations.

"It's not in demand. Our customers haven't asked for it. The majority of our deposits come through payroll direct deposits. We also link to your bank account and you can transfer to Virtual Bank. If demand were high it would be something we would do."

But cyberspace neighbor Everbank spends a page of its Web site touting how easy it is to deposit at ATMs.

"We definitely see a demand for ATM deposit," says Jane Dulle, vice president of product development.

"We receive a large amount of deposits from the ATMs very consistently. Customers are telling us they find it convenient. We have a core group of customers who have figured out where the deposit-sharing ATMs are."

Shared depositing, which is what Bank One has quit doing, is when a financial institution allows its customers to make deposits at ATMs belonging to other banks or at ATM-payment networks such as NYCE, Star, etc., and accepts deposits from noncustomers.


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-- Posted: Sept. 2, 2003
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