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ATM, meet smartphone

By Claes Bell ·
Monday, January 14, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

ATMs may one day not only integrate with your smartphone, they may work like them, too.

At the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, Diebold, one of the nation's biggest ATM manufacturers, unveiled a prototype that sports the type of touchscreen, multitouch controls that wouldn't look out of place on an Android or Apple smartphone.

For instance, instead of keying in the amount you want to withdraw from your checking account, you swipe a dial down until it reaches the amount you want, just like you would on an iPhone.

It also borrows a page from the playbook of mobile payments startup Square by emailing or texting receipts instead of printing them out.

Also, in a nod to the industry-wide push toward  mobile wallets, or smartphone-based payment systems, the ATM builds in the capability to make a withdrawal without a plastic ATM card. Instead, mobile wallet users will scan a QR code on the ATM screen and authorize the withdrawal from their smartphones.

One cool feature is how the ATM enables person-to-person payments, which those looking for ways to modernize payments have found to be a tough nut to crack. The Diebold software allows you to authorize a payment to a friend via your smartphone. It then sends a one-time code to your friend, which they enter into the ATM to retrieve the cash.

I have mixed feelings about mobile wallets. While I think they're a cool piece of technology, for most people they seem to be a solution in search of a problem. Most people are perfectly happy using their debit cards or credit cards, rather than their smartphones, to pay for purchases and make ATM withdrawals.

However, increased integration between ATMs, points of sale and banks could help the industry finally find a "killer app" for smartphone-based banking that could help the technology take off. Now all we have to do is see if they can do something about ATM fees.

What do you think? Are ATMs an area where new technology is needed, or are you happy with them as they are today? Would you want to use a phone as your ATM card?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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January 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

what happens to the cash if the "code" is never used at the atm - does the gov't get the keep the unused "codes" thus the cash for the one time payment - worse than lost gift card :(

January 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I would be concerned that they need to develop advanced security measures in conjunction with this new app. The world's thieves are just to quick at adapting to new technologies.

January 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Kyyrie,is 100% correct. It's another way of Big Brother watching you! But they are trying to make it look as if it's a great way of doing things. I see a double edge sword here.

Claes Bell
January 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

At least on cars, sales tax will be paid by buyer when they try and register the vehicle. But you're right that a smartphone person-to-person payment is less anonymous than cash.

January 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Smartphone apps to transfer funds to a friend? May be useful in some situations but call me crazy if I think it will end up being a way for government to tax private sales. I sell you a car for cash but you transfer the money to me via smartphone. Bingo! Record of personal transaction that is taxable......

January 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

What about the people who do not have or even do not want a smart phone