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The cash machine of the future

This post originally appeared on Finextra on August 17th.

With the ongoing growth of virtual currencies, cashless payments and online shopping (albeit slowly), cash machines could very well find themselves obsolete.

In addition to looking forward to bank holiday weekends that don’t involve a mad dash searching for an ATM which still contains cash, I’ve been thinking of alternate uses for these large, unwieldy machines that populate our streets.

Social retail hubs

Why not strip out the mechanical cash handling elements of the machine and simply replace with a keyboard, screen and internet connection? Positioned as they often are on high-streets, these robust social hubs could allow you to log into your social network of choice, see which of your friends are in the area, what they’re buying, and how much you could be saving if you bought with them.

If the cash machine retained a secure link to your account they could augment balance details with helpful information on what you could afford to buy in the local area, or where to avoid if you want to save money.

Cash machines positioned in airports could double up as booking centres, linking into review sites like Trip Advisor and advising where best to book accommodation. Gung-ho travellers could rock up to airports and book flights based on the recent travelling habits of friends, turning the cash machine into a trusted advisor, facilitating a spontaneous lifestyle with intelligent, tailored recommendations.

3D printers

3D printing is still a bulky and expensive process, but one with fantastic potential for helping people. Take the theory behind Natwest’s Emergency Cash service one step further and you can imagine your bank offering other emergency products with the help of 3D printing.

Why not give your bank a copy of your front door key? If you get stuck without it you could print a new copy from your nearest cash machine, obviously once you’ve jumped through the necessary security hoops.

Customer service portals

With the decrease in physical bank branches, cash machines could provide valuable real estate for banks wanting a new form of customer service. Fitting the cash machines with web cams, microphones and a suitable identification verification method (iris scan?) would quickly create a one-to-one customer service experience, giving the customer direct access to a team empowered to make necessary account changes.

Obviously privacy would need to be provided and so live-chat could be offered rather than a full speaking interaction, but the visible and widespread presence of customer service help could really help customer confidence.

Empty shells

Considering that the above suggestions could be as easily accomplished on smartphones in the next few years when NFC and mobile payment properly becomes mainstream, one could easily imagine that cash machines will become as dusty and twee as the telephone boxes that were once so heavily relied upon.

Image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Flickr user philandpam.

This post was filed under Finance, Working culture Comments are currently closed.


  1. Fab post Ross, as always!! I love your interesting approach to future banking!! Looking forward to more! :)

    Posted 18th August 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  2. This is great, Ross. Classic Breadmore thinking. The print-your-own-door-key concept is inspired, and potentially very useful.

    Could your vision of the ‘do anything internet hub’ be a way of making mobile mobile services more accessible to those without smartphones? We hear so much now about the rise in mobile internet use – Have you just outlined a way that people less able to afford or understand mobile internet can still have access to the online world when out of the house?

    Personally, I won’t be happy until my bank can supply me with fresh bread at two in the morning.

    Posted 18th August 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink