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Tweens, Teens, and ATMs

Should Teens Carry an ATM Card

Should Teens Carry an ATM Card?

The thought of your tween or teen armed with an automatic teller machine card might send shivers up your spine. After all, every place that young people go, there tend to be plenty of ATMs: at sports stadiums, concert venues, at shopping malls, and on so many city streets. You might imagine your child out with his or her friends, continually stopping at ATMs all night long so he or she can spend, spend, spend – and worry about the consequences at another time.

That doesn’t mean you should try to block your kids’ access to ATMs until they’re ready to leave for college. ATMs can provide emergency cash whenever your kids are stranded, or whenever they’ve lost a purse or wallet and need to pay for transportation home. What’s more, ATMs can teach them important lessons about monetary usage and about establishing a monthly budget and then sticking to that budget no matter what.

Setting Boundaries for your Teen’s ATM Card

It’s important to sit down with your kids before you hand them an ATM card to discuss restrictions. Just as you assign them a curfew and establish other rules, set limits as to how often they’re allowed to make ATM withdrawals, so as not to drive the cost of their ATM fees too high. Once a week is probably a good number. Also, instruct your kids to only use the ATMs belonging to their bank, again to avoid unnecessary fees. And make sure you review ATM safety guidelines with them, so they can avoid thieves and skimmers.

Sometimes it’s better to test your kids’ spending habits before entrusting them with full ATM privileges. One way to do that is by giving them a prepaid card. A prepaid card is similar to a credit card, but it uses funds that you have already deposited into an account. Every time your child makes a purchase, the amount of that purchase is deducted from the account. Once your child has demonstrated to you that he or she can spend in a responsible, thoughtful manner, and isn’t prone to splurges, you can then upgrade him or her to an ATM card. Be aware that some prepaid cards come with an ATM function, but you can usually disable that function if you want. You should realize, too, that a number of prepaid cards charge high fees.

In some ways, issuing a card for an automatic teller machine makes it easier to monitor your tween or teenager’s spending habits. If your child works, and/or you give her an allowance, then she might be spending a lot of cash without your having the slightest idea of where that money’s going. But if your son or daughter uses an ATM card to get cash as needed, you can have a clearer sense of when and where that money is being spent. Make it a requirement, therefore, that your child bring home all his ATM receipts, just as he does all his report cards. From time to time, leaf through those receipts and make sure there aren’t any huge withdrawals or suspicious locations listed.

By the same token, an ATM card can make a child more careful with cash. Think about it this way: if your child were to attend a concert with a big wad of cash that she’d saved up from her afterschool job, she might be inclined to spend the entire sum on unnecessary souvenirs. But if she has to go up to an ATM and type in a number, knowing that her parents are going to see the receipt, she might well end up spending a lot less money that evening.

How To Ensure You Profit From Your ATM

Ensure You Profit From Your ATM

So you have an ATM, but do you even know if you’re making any real profit? Some ATM operators consider the additional money spent in their location as profit but you may want to know the actual profit from the machine.

Do not become a business owner that buys an ATM and never calculates whether or not profits are being made. That’s no way to run a business. It’s a good idea to figure out how much you make a month and year so that you know the value of your investment.

When you don’t feel like you’re making as much profit as possible then you may want to consider ways to get more people to withdraw cash from your ATM. There are a few things you can do to encourage more customers to use your ATM.

How Much was the ATM?

Using the cost of the machine and how much profit you make from it monthly you can quickly see your ROI (your return on investment). Most business owners simply pay cash or use a credit card to finance the ATM (they aren’t that expensive anymore) so calculating ROI is fairly straight forward. While you can take advantage of depreciation and amortization as a piece of business equipment, you should also calculate how long it actually takes to recoup your investment.  We’ve seen busy ATM’s have an ROI of less than 1 month, while slower machines can take 6 – 12 months, which is still a fantastic ROI.

When you figure out how long it is going to take to pay off what you paid for the machine (your ROI) you’ll get a better understanding of when you will make a real profit. It should not take longer than a year to pay off what you invested to get the machine. Most business owners are able to pay off or recoup the investment in the ATM within a year.

Big factors include how much business you generate and the location of your machine. Make sure that your ATM is in a place people can easily find it. Consider putting your machine near the front of your store so people will be more likely to come in and use it if they need quick cash and don’t forget to load the ATM everyday.

How Much Does It Cost to Operate an ATM?

The factors that add to the operational cost of an ATM include communication (phone, internet or wireless device), a little electricity, and paper for the receipts.  All this added together is probably less than $0.85 per day.

Are you Keeping Track of the Money Going In and Out of Your ATM?

Most retail business ATM operators load cash daily similar to a cash register. So you should balance daily if you can. Otherwise, you can use the trial cassette close functions and online balance functions to track or count the money in the machine daily if possible. Whenever you or someone else loads the machine make your you have procedures in place to keep track of the funds. If you trust someone to load the ATM for you, be sure they keep a ledger or journal and make sure funds balance. This helps keep track of the money to ensure that you are not losing or missing any cash. Some people are tempted to think you’ll never miss a $20 bill here or there, so the last thing you want to realize is that someone you trust has been stealing a $20 here or there for a few months. Twenty dollars here and there might go unnoticed but it could add up.

You should be able to trust your employees but caution is always good to practice. Use the printer balance functions and put the receipts in envelopes and balance to the online system whenever you load or do your closeouts.

Are You Advertising that You Have an ATM?

A few signs, one for inside the store and a couple to put outside can make a big difference. Make your ATM very easy to find once people get inside. Post a big sign outside that reads “ATM Inside” so that people will know if they need cash all they have to do is walk into your store. Place another sign in close proximity to your store that notifies people there is an ATM within walking distance. A small investment into signs can go a long way and help you generate a lot of more profits on a weekly basis.

Another way to generate more ATM usage is to offer specials or coupons on the ATM receipt.  Most of the late model ATM machines make it easy to offer your customers extra value for using the ATM. If you have coupons in other publications, advertise those. You can also make deals with neighboring stores to advertise their store on your ATM if they advertise your store. You can also offer a coupon good for a special during their next visit.  There are lots of other ways to make your ATM more profitable. Want more tips on how to profit from your ATM, give us a call.

Smart ATMs

How Smart is An ATM?

How Smart is An ATM

Thanks to digital technology, automatic teller machines, like so many gadgets we use in our daily lives, are getting smarter all the time. A few years ago, the only relationship between ATMs and smartphones was the fact that you could use a phone app to locate the nearest ATM. Now, however, smartphone apps in many instances are replacing ATM cards altogether.

Consider, for example, the ATM program that the self-service software company NCR has introduced recently. ATM users who have smartphones with cameras can approach an ATM and complete the following process:

  • Activate their NCR app
  • Enter their PIN number on their phone
  • Choose the account from which they want to withdraw money and the dollar amount of that withdrawal
  • Scan the QR code that the ATM screen displays

After doing these things, the money comes out and a receipt is sent directly to the smartphone. NCR says that this withdrawal should take a customer about ten seconds. It helps people avoid the threat of skimming, and takes away the fear that they might lose their ATM card or have it stolen.

Diebold, an Ohio-based company that also specializes in self-service systems, has likewise found a way to combine smartphones and ATMs to eliminate the need for an ATM card. Their program works in a way similar to NCR’s:

  • An ATM user scans the QR card on a smartphone.
  • An ATM screen appears on the phone, allowing that person to choose a dollar amount to withdraw.
  • A code appears, which the customer types on the screen of the ATM.

The cash is dispensed, and transactions are complete when customers receive the electronic receipt on their phones. Note that customers receive different codes every time they use this system; as soon as a transaction has gone through, that code is voided. This system not only makes ATM transactions more convenient for customers, but it benefits banks as well, in that it uses a cloud server rather than a bank’s computer. As a result, banks don’t need to use as much power on any given day. Further, banks do not have to pay for paper and printer ink to print out receipts.

The Diebold system also allows people to use their smartphones to “wire” money to others. Let’s say your son is on a spring break trip and loses his wallet and all his cash, and he has no bank account from which to withdraw money. All you have to do under such circumstances is use your ATM app to select an amount of money to withdraw. You will receive a code which you can send to your son’s smartphone. He can then go to an ATM, enter that code and withdraw the amount of cash you selected. Again, this code is a one-time-only code.

It may surprise you to learn that banks generally do not have to do much work in order to make their ATMs compatible with smartphones. In most cases, all a bank must do is update its ATM software and add a barcode scanner to each machine.

In the future, automatic teller machines might become even more interactive. The aforementioned company NCR is teaming up with a company headquartered in Utah called uGenius Technology to develop ATMs with video screens. These screens allow customers  interact with bank tellers; the tellers are on hand to guide ATM customers through complicated transactions – transactions which, in the past, usually required speaking with a real live teller at a bank. If this technology catches on, it might mean that bank branches will not need to hire as many tellers, as a smaller number of tellers will work in central locations and help customers remotely.

ATMs for the Visually Impaired

Blind people, and people with visual impairments, can go into any bank in the United States and use an automatic teller machine unassisted. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it a requirement that financial institutions be equipped with ATMs for the visually impaired. That’s because, under the law, having to wait in line to speak to a teller and ask for assistance with an ATM machine places an undue burden on visually impaired people. Not to mention, getting a teller’s assistance with an ATM requires customers to say all of their personal banking information out loud. And doing makes the customer vulnerable to thieves and skimmers.

How Are the Visually Impaired Guided Through an ATM Transaction?

ATMs for the Visually Impaired

ATMs for the visually impaired include Braille, both on the keys and Braille instructions. The keys of an ATM are designed in a certain way to assist the blind. Keys are raise, not flat against the keypad. The numbers are set up in a way that makes them easy to find, too. They’re arranged in order – either ascending order or descending order – and the number five has a tiny raised piece on it to help those with visual impairments orient themselves.

Most important, these ATMs “talk”, they deliver through voice recordings all the information that seeing customers read. These pieces of info include:

  • instructions for making transactions
  • error messages
  • the date
  • the time

Visually-impaired people listen to ATM voices through headphones. Banks provide headphones, but in order to avoid germs, customers can bring their own headphones to the bank. (These machines work with most standard versions of headphones and earbuds.) That way, these customers can keep private their personal information, items such as:

  • their monthly bank statements
  • the balances in their various accounts

What’s more, these ATM voices are not simply recordings that are played back at the touch of the button. They are more sophisticated than that. For example, customers can ask that the voice repeat a certain sentence. And some ATMs speak in voices that sound human, as opposed to the emotionless, non-modulated voices of many computers. Customers can adjust the volume of an ATM voice.

How are these ATMs Helpful to Others Not Visually Impaired?

Senior citizens who are not legally blind but who have issues with their eyesight can derive benefit from talking ATMs. That’s because these machines employ contrasting colors to make various keys stand out, making them easier to spot. In fact, everyone is allowed to use a talking ATM. Therefore, you can use one of these machines if you have 20/20 eyesight but you simply do not like to use touchscreens for whatever reason. These machines also provide assistance to people who are illiterate or who have reading disabilities.

History of the Talking ATM

The talking ATM made its public debut at San Francisco City Hall on October 1, 1999. Today, there are more than 100,000 of these machines in operation in the United States, with more coming all the time, and they can be found in nations all over the world. Indeed, they are more affordable now for banks than ever. Some companies that make ATMs even offer trade-in programs, whereby a bank can swap an existing ATM for a talking ATM, and thereby obtain the talking ATM at a reduced rate. Or banks can simply purchase conversion kits for the ATMs they already have; these kits include the voice software that makes the ATMs talk. Banks also have the option of setting up talking ATMs that speak languages in addition to English. Bank of America, to take one example, has owned and operated thousands of bilingual ATMs for almost a decade.

As a final warning, realize that many standalone ATMs – the kind of ATM you find on street corners and inside or outside non-financial institutions like convenience stores – do not talk. But as these ATMs age and are replaced, the financial institutions that operate these machines often replace them with ATMs that do have voice capabilities.

Where Should I Place My ATM?

Where Should I Place My ATM?

Where Should I Place My ATM

To really maximize the profits you earn from your business’s automatic teller machine, you need to place that machine in the right location. ATM placement is an art, not a science, however, even experts on the topic can sometimes disagree about ATM placement strategies. So consider the following an introduction to the factors that go into this important decision.

First and foremost, your customers won’t want to use your ATM unless they feel safe doing so. Therefore, install your ATM someplace in your business that’s lit brightly, somewhere under the watchful eye of a security camera, perhaps with a visible alarm system within arm’s reach.

You also have to decide whether to install your ATM indoors or outdoors. Outdoor ATM’s can be accessed twenty-four hours a day, of course, but they’re more vulnerable to vandals and thieves. You’ll have to invest in a first-rate (in other words, expensive) security system. There might even be specific safety/security laws in your state and municipality dictating the kinds of security measures you’re required to have in place for an outdoor ATM. In addition, during the day many customers prefer using indoor rather than outdoor ATM’s, as they feel safer doing so. In that regard, you might actually lose some ATM business if you place your automatic teller machine outside.

If you manage a large complex, such as a shopping mall or a resort hotel, then choosing the spot in which to install your ATM becomes significantly more challenging. Many such facilities set up an ATM in the lobby, believing that customers expect to find ATM’s there, and also believing that a lobby is a safe place because it receives so much traffic all day long. And many hotels, malls and even hospitals decide to maintain more than one on-site ATM. For instance, a hotel might find it worth the investment to put an ATM on every floor. If you decide to go this route, it probably makes sense to put the ATM at the same location on each floor – just to the left of the elevator, for instance.

You don’t have to run a business with multiple floors in order to derive benefit from multiple ATM’s, though. Even if you own, for example, a fairly large, one-story convenience store, you might find that if you purchase more than one ATM, and place those ATM’s in opposite sections of your store, those ATM’s will increase your profit margins each month.

One of the longest-running debates when it comes to the placement of ATM’s is this: Should you put an ATM right next to the front door of your establishment? There are passionate advocates on both sides of this argument. Those who say that an ATM should go beside the front door can site statistics indicating that putting an ATM here greatly increases the usage that ATM will get over time. Some studies have even said that an ATM beside the front door gets twice as many transactions as an ATM placed in, say, one of the far corners of a business’s interior.

On the other hand, the case against putting an ATM by the front door is also convincing. First, if you attract lots of customers each day, an ATM next to the door could cause congestion around that door. People lining up here might even block the entrance. And if potential customers walking by on the street see this commotion, they might be discouraged from entering your establishment, thus costing you business. Even worse, a line of customers near your front door might constitute a minor fire hazard, should that line be thick enough. And if your front door is glass, it might be tempting for drug addicts and other amateur robbers to break the glass at night, step inside and try to loot your ATM.

If you have no idea how many ATM’s to buy, or where to place them, you can always contact experts at an ATM consulting service. They’ll be able to analyze your floor plan and your flow of traffic and tell you the best place to put your machine(s).