When Devon Watson describes the automated teller machine of the future, it's not a clunky gray terminal that sucks in a card and spits out money. It's an electronic financial hub that lets customers take banking into their own hands, literally, by interacting with their smart phones and tablets.
That shift in the sophistication and function of the ATM described by Watson, senior director of software product management at ATM maker Diebold Inc., is in response to changing consumer wants as the tech-savvy millennial generation becomes more of a market force and more people worldwide embrace the use of mobile devices.
And it is obvious Diebold intends to be a driver of such change.
Last week, Diebold announced a partnership with Paydiant Inc., creator of cloud-based mobile wallet and payment technology, that will let customers use their smart phones instead of credit or debit cards to withdraw money from their ATMs.
A few weeks earlier, Watson and Jim Block, director of advanced technology at Diebold, gave presentations on "The ATM Reimagined" at ATM Industry Association conferences in London and Montreal. Diebold recently has rolled out a conceptual design that illustrates how the company plans to adapt ATMs to better suit millennials — those consumers born between the early '80s and mid '90s.
The design takes its cues from today's smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, with an intuitive interface that allows users to scroll like they would on a cell phone. The new features cater to two connected and growing demographics: the aforementioned millennials and mobile device users across the globe.
The rising popularity of mobile devices is one of the biggest trends driving the future of the ATM, Watson said. "It really does change people's behavior," he said.
Millennials, in particular, are a demographic that expects to have mobile applications and clear interfaces in the electronic devices they use.
And, Watson said, they are a very vocal group of consumers with different — and greater — expectations of technology than the generations who came before.
"Banks need to treat them a little bit differently," Watson said.
Bag the card
Diebold has done research of its own with millennials, a group that will make up the majority of the work force by 2025, Watson said. The company has conducted panels with consumers and taken a close look at outside research on that generation, too.
"You see that they are fundamentally different in the way that they value things," Watson said.
He gave an example, saying one study showed more than 40 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds considered a text message just as meaningful as a phone conversation.
In Diebold's next-generation ATM, the design would enable interaction between mobile devices and the ATM, Watson said.
In the not-too-distant future, visiting an ATM could be a card-free experience. A customer could set up a transaction directly from his or her smart phone or other mobile device, transmitting that information to the ATM and using a QR code to verify when the consumer arrives at the terminal.
A complete version if this story is available at the website for Crain's Cleveland Business, a sister publication to Plastics News.