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ATMs or ITMs: Exploring the Best Option

ATM or ITM: Exploring the Best Option Blog Post

Just as ATMs revolutionized our industry 40 years ago, ITMs are now making their mark. Many financial institutions considering the cost implications, functionality, and service delivery of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and Interactive Teller Machines (ITMS) are often perplexed. Which delivery sysem is best, ATMs or ITMs?

ATMs are electronic devices which allow your clients to complete basic transactions in a short amount of time. These self-service functions include withdrawing cash, making deposits, checking balances and transferring money between accounts. ATMs work at the client’s convenience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They need not be located in or attached to a branch. These machines can be placed in high-traffic locations for greater service delivery. ATMs, however, are aging out and becoming dated. Future proofing your ATM network is always a consideration to ensure the best possible service is delivered to your clients with each interaction. 

On the other hand, ITMs combine traditional ATM functionality while offering an expanded self-service offering. Customers/members utilizing an ITM also have the ability to engage with a live frontline associate via video chat on the ITM’s screen to help them with their transactions. These machines, like ATMs, can cash checks, make deposits, accept loan/bill payments, and provide a brief account statement. ITMs, however, can also handle new account opening, loan origination, and much more. ITMs also provide a coin dispenser for distributing different denominations of coins, and ID scanner for client identity verification, and a signature pad.

Key Indicators that Your Financial Institution Can Benefit from Enhanced Technology

While there is no indication that the traditional physical branch experience will disappear in the near future, the branch’s success will depend on its ability to evolve and adapt to a more service-centric client. Branches must improve to remain relevant and deliver quality service. 

Indications that your financial institution branches need to evolve:

Staffing Shortages

With an all-time low unemployment rate in the U.S., filling your front-line positions can be challenging. The incorporation of ITMs allows for remote work and a branch that can operate with a smaller-sized staff. 

Long Lines

Additionally, branches in high-traffic areas or busy parts of town may experience lines that stretch out their front door. This is a strong indication that ITM technology is a solution. Educating clients to utilize the ITM to handle basic transactions and allowing employees to focus on financial education and client questions is a smart solution.  

Need for Choice

Today’s client enjoys having choices in how and where they do their banking transactions. Tech-savvy generations enjoy the ‘in and out’ experience an ITM provides while the more mature generations enjoy physical interaction. If your branch has a higher population of Millennials and Gen Zers, ITMs might be a great addition for convenience.

Basically, the key is to take time to do your research. Look at existing market data, listen to feedback from your clients as well as your front-line employees before incoporating ATMs or ITMs.

Finding the Right Solution – ATMs or ITMs


ITMs have a high cost of entry (between $60K and $80K each) and a need to install multiple ITM unites in order to begin seeing the benefits of scale. In addition, setting up a server that integrates with the ITM in support of your current core processes may add an additional $30K to $90K based on the vendor utilized. It is recommended to incorporate 10 ITM machines at a time to justify the expense as a whole program. A positive note is that ITMs reduce transaction costs and free-up branch staff to focus on sales goals. This has the potential for increasing revenue growth by equipping physically present employees to share new financial products and opportunities to enhance the loyalty of your customers/members. 

Service vs. Sales

Employees serve two functions: service providers and sales personnel. The former increases success rates of cross selling and financial education when ITMS handle the day-to-day transactions. The financial institution also streamlines their training program(s) by creating more of a sales culture for increased productivity. 

Increased Convenience

Comparatively, as ITMs are run by a remote workforce in a call center or home office, the ITM technology can be employed outside of traditional branch hours offering a convenience to clients beyond the branch. 

Transaction Times

ATMs while limited in functionality are known for quick and efficient transaction times. ITMs, however, have increased transactions times as clients interact with a live associate who typically asks questions to ensure the client’s financial goals are fully met during the transaction. 

Operational Efficiency

ITMs have the capability of handling the vast majority of teller transactions and more including cash withdrawals, check cashing, deposits, bill payments, loan payments, new account openings, and more. 

Security Concerns

Incorporating offsite virtual tellers hosting the ITMs means it is much less likely that the branch will be robbed and provides a greater comfort to employees.

Consider the capabilities of ATMs or ITMs at-a-glance:
Cash Deposit & WithdrawalYESYES
Check DepositYESYES
Balance StatementYESYES
Transfer FundsYESYES
Cash AdvancesYESYES
Bill & Loan PaymentsYESYES
Check CashingYES
Cash Withdrawals in Increments Under $20YES
Real-Time Video Conferencing with Live TellerYES
Order Replacement Debit/Credit CardsYES
Process Savings BondsYES
Issue Bank Checks & Money OrdersYES
Investment Account TransactionsYES
Certificate of Deposit RenewalsYES

In conclusion, when considering between ATMs or ITMs, there are many benefits for both. The key is to study your current operational set-up, strategic goals, and customer/member support initiatives.

Looking for more insight on ATMs or ITMs? Contact the team at FSI for assistance.


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