With New ATMs, Who Needs Bank Tellers?

By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 2006-09-18 Print this article Print

Michigan First Credit Union is one of the first financial institutions in North America to adopt a new automated teller machine developed by IBM and German manufacturer Wincor Nixdorf. One new feature: It can cash checks to the penny.

Several financial institutions are rolling out new electronic banking machines that allow consumers to access more services without seeing a teller--and soon, they'll even be dispensing movie tickets.

Michigan First Credit Union, based in Lathrup Village, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, is one of the first financial institutions in North America to begin using a new machine developed by IBM in partnership with Wincor Nixdorf, a German manufacturer of ATMs.

One of first things customers notice about the machines: They no longer require envelopes to make cash deposits, and the machines even take coins. When a customer indicates they would like to make a deposit, the machine asks whether it will be check, cash or coin. If it's cash, a slot opens and the customer can put in up to 50 bills at one time. Another slot accepts coins.

"Our primary goal is to help our customers save time," says Michael Poulos, chief executive of Michigan First. "We know people like to do things for themselves, so our goal is to allow them to do just about anything they could do at a teller."

The machines, which Michigan First is calling MoneyWorks Banking Centers, allow customers to cash checks to the penny, make loan payments and transfer funds between accounts, with all transactions immediately posted to accounts. IBM worked with Michigan First, which has 73,000 members and more than $400 million in assets, to integrate the new machines directly into the credit union's core banking systems so deposits and withdrawals could be reflected in accounts immediately.

More features are yet to come, adds Poulos, as the machines have the capability to offer a variety of third party services. In the future, for example, Michigan First hopes to use the machines to sell movie, concert and special event tickets, as well as dispense stamps.

The new machines are considerably more expensive than standard units--about two times the $25,000 cost of an average ATM. However, Poulos believes they will allow the credit union to open more branches with fewer tellers, offsetting the cost.

"In locations where we would usually have six or eight tellers, we believe we will be able to get away with only two," he says.

Contributing Editor
Mel Duvall is a veteran business and technology journalist, having written for a variety of daily newspapers and magazines for 17 years. Most recently he was the Business Commerce Editor for Interactive Week, and previously served as a senior business writer for The Financial Post.


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