Future interaction with ATMs could somewhat mimic consumers’ experiences with laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices if a new concept from Diebold Inc. takes hold.

The North Canton, Ohio-based ATM maker has joined with Verizon Wireless to develop what they are calling a 4G LTE-enabled ATM because it uses one of the telecommunication industry’s most-current and fastest wireless networks.

Diebold revealed the concept this week with demonstrations at the Verizon booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Essentially, Diebold applied the 4G technology to its ATM to create an additional communication channel to enhance consumer and security services, Chris Rowe, Diebold senior director of development, tells PaymentsSource.

“We have always had the ability at Diebold to use wireless for transactions, but not for services,” Rowe says.

The wireless technology that generally provides high-speed Internet connections to laptop computers and smartphones will now allow added services to the ATM that a consumer would expect to receive from a teller inside the bank, he adds.

Diebold plans to test the ATM concept at pilot sites through most of 2012, with the intent to distribute globally next year. However, no specific timetable for commercial release has been set, Rowe says.

Ultimately, the company hopes to provide new ATMs or 4G software and hardware upgrades to existing Diebold Opteva ATMs, Rowe notes.

A consumer approaching a new 4G ATM would identify himself through his bank’s network and procedures by inserting his debit card and entering a PIN to begin a transaction. But the new ATM will have access through its new channel to data specific to that customer that could trigger service offers, Rowe explains.

The ATM may alert the customer through a message on the screen that his certificate of deposit is up for renewal, asking if he would like to renew at this time, he adds.

“If the customer says yes, a call goes into the bank’s service center, and a two-way video display, or an audio connection, appears to conduct the transaction with a bank employee,” Rowe says.

In addition, the new communication channel provides connection to question-and-answer audio or video options for the customer, Rowe says.

On the security front, the technology triggers cameras within the ATM to start streaming live surveillance video if tampering of any sort occurs with the machine, Rowe says.

If a criminal attempts to place a skimming device on the unit, the ATM signals a potential problem by sending video and data to a bank’s monitoring center, which in turn would contact local police and bank personnel, Rowe adds. A location within the bank or at a third-party security provider generally serves as the monitoring center, he notes.

When considering maintenance issues, banks will benefit because the 4G connection expands communication between a self-service ATM and the companies that service them, with the ATM providing additional service-related data to the provider, Rowe says.

The 4G concept represents a relevant step forward for the ATM industry, especially with regard to security, according to one industry analyst.

“The extra security is an excellent feature because [the technology] provides the bandwidth required for accurately monitoring the ATM status in real-time,” David Albertazzi, a senior analyst and expert with Boston-based Aite Group, tells PaymentsSource.

Jim Block, Diebold director of advanced development and technology, tells PaymentsSource the new communication channel will not carry an extra burden on the bank’s existing channels. “This new ATM channel is built to carry an extra load of communications data,” he says.

Banks often use wireless ATMs at conventions, concerts or fairs, but Block says the services available through 4G “make the real value of this ATM perfect for bank branches and main sites.”

Because extra services could translate into longer customer sessions at the ATM, each bank would have to determine the best location for new units, Block notes. A bank experiencing heavy use of a drive-through ATM may determine the drive-through location is not the best place to engage a customer with additional services, he notes.

Verizon had various roles in the project beyond incorporating its network technology into the ATM functions, Block says. Verizon facilitated Diebold’s interactions with third-party providers of router products, audio and video hardware, in addition to advising the company about network antennae placements, he adds.

Albertazzi suggests the new technology “opens the door for using cell phones to authenticate the user at an ATM,” but Rowe speculates that “pass transactions” might be a next step.

“I can see a transaction starting in one channel, like a parent using a mobile phone to authorize a cash withdrawal for a student at college, and then it finishes with the student getting the cash at the ATM,” Rowe says. “I think an ATM will always be in the mix.”

Diebold’s 4G ATM concept announcement comes a month after the company began installing advanced-services ATMs in Sweden featuring mixed-denomination deposit capabilities and multi-vendor adoption software (see story).

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