The ATM of the future - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

The ATM of the future

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

She's almost 50, so the ATM is going in for a facelift and a name change.

Tomorrow's Automatic Teller Machine will marry consumers' seemingly opposite demands for all-hours convenience and human interaction. By way of a video screen, this modern cash box will connect users to a live teller.

Banking meet Skype; Skype meet Banking.

"Personal service has kind of died in this country, but this is bringing it back," said Bob Fisher, CEO of Grow Financial Credit Union.

Grow is the first financial institution in Florida to unveil such an ATM.

"Business is going to be done this way everywhere," Fisher said.

But the ATM of the future isn't an ATM at all.

"It's an ITM, for Interactive Teller Machine," Fisher said.

We engaged the ITM nestled beside Grow's Wesley Chapel branch by merely tapping the screen. Within seconds Miguel appeared.

"Hi. Welcome to Grow Financial. How can I help you today?"

The sluggish latency that plagues so many video chats at home did not infect our repeated requests to withdraw money. To our surprise, this secure video link was solid and nearly real-time.

Miguel was able to dispense trios of crisp $5 bills in the same amount of time an ATM would.

"It's actually quite exciting to be part of the team that gets to pioneer this in Florida," he said. "To make it our own and shape what this is going to be for baking in the future."

One peculiarity – perhaps a paradigm shift in nearly 50 years of ATM use -- was that Miguel told me to keep my ATM card in my wallet.

"With this machine all you need is your account number and ID," he said. He scanned my license by remote, verified who I was, and allowed me access to the account.

The experience was neither the 100 percent robotic feel of an ATM, nor the full personal sensation of speaking to an old-fashioned bank teller. It was a uniquely modern hybrid of both.

Miguel and his colleagues aren't located inside the branch. Instead, they are housed inside the Grow headquarters 20 miles away, capable of powering ITMs that will be installed at the credit union's regional branches.

"We're the face behind the screen," he joked.

Fisher, the Grow CEO, said far-flung ITMs could be powered by tellers that are concentrated in a single office.

"It could be in Denver, Los Angeles, wherever," he said.

Banks are surely pulling a page from the nation's passenger airlines, which have slimmed airport check-in lines and cut costs with check-in kiosks.

"This is really no different," Fisher said. "Except that we have a really nice person that is going to come up on the screen that is going to deal with you personally."

Fisher said Grow expected to save money with the ITM. And the credit union's customers will reap the benefits.

"[We will] pass those savings on to members through better deposit rates and better loan rates," he said. "That's what this is all about."

Fisher is sure the ITM will catch on. Its newfangled name, on the other hand, is less likely to stick.

"I think people will still call it an ATM machine. That's been around forever," he said.

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