The automatic teller machine, ATM for short, is a magical invention. It sits there, always on, never tired or looking forward to a lunch break, and it pumps out an endless stream of money should people need some. Using an ATM is pretty straightforward. Plastic card goes in, type a PIN code, hit some buttons, and out comes a few pieces of paper that can be exchanged for whatever tickles your fancy. But wait a minute, we’re living in the year 2012, surely there has to be a better way? There is if you’re in the UK and are a customer of NatWest or the Royal Bank of Scotland! Download their smartphone app, launch it, tell it how much money you need (maximum £100), and you’ll get a six digit code that expires in three hours. Type said code into any NatWest, RBS, or Tesco branded ATMs and voilà, money comes out.
So now the important question: When will this sort of technology come to your local bank? That’s impossible to say since every bank is different. Most banks try to keep up with the latest trends, but some obviously excel at it better than others. Is this ability to withdraw cash going to get tons of people to switch from their current banking provider? We severely doubt it since cash is quickly becoming an obsolete medium to conduct transactions, but hey, you never know, there might be a geek crowd who gets lured in by this.
At the end of the day, what we really want is the ability to go out into the world with nothing but a mobile phone. Said phone should unlock doors, pay for things, and pretty much everything else. Keys are a nuisance since you might forget them, that and they make noise. And coins … don’t get us started.