Five things to do at ATMs you’d never thought possible

By : Scott Millar

January 23, 2015 07:57 PM

Want to buy a goat to sacrifice? Depending on where you are in the world, you might well be able to pop around the corner to the nearest ATM and order one -- it's that simple.  The fact is that ATMs have become a versatile and important part of life in all circles.


Sure, the goat sacrifice purchase may be an extreme example of the versatility of the ATM, but the notion of such a thing certainly illustrates that cash is not the only thing ATMs could be good for.  Certainly goats are not ejected out of the machine like bank notes. We’re not talking about transforming the ATM into a glorified vending machine.


Ultimately, it just comes down to the ATM software and how it enables a transaction to take place. Traditionally, ATM transactions were limited to cash only deals, but increasingly banks and providers around the world are testing the boundaries about what's possible with an ATM as they become an increasing important interaction point for consumers with their banks.


Here are five of the most unusual ways people can use the ATM, which I lovingly call, the “hole-in-the-wall.”


1. Sacrificial goats


Some banks in Muslim countries have been trying to help customers fulfil their religious duties with ATMs. For example, in Indonesia, offering people the chance to purchase a sacrificial goat at their local ATM is good business. Goats can be purchased at the terminal with the animals slaughtered elsewhere and the food offered to the poor.


2. Utility bills


Electricity, gas and other utility bills can be paid at ATMs in lots of countries. Some banks will even offer a discount to customers who use the automated service.  As many people still pay these bills with a bank giro credit in branch via the teller, it makes sense for banks to offer a utility payment service.  Credit card bills can also be paid via the ATM.


3. Tax payments and fines


Some bank customers around the world can settle their tax bills at an ATM. Usually it involves setting up your card beforehand by linking the relevant tax information with the account. After that, it's a straightforward process of keying in how much tax you wish to pay at the ATM before the due date.


ATMs can let you settle up with the authorities in other ways - in some countries you can pay speeding fines and parking tickets at the “hole in the wall”.


4. Travel or event tickets


Anything paper-based that resembles cash – event tickets, for example -- can be dispensed from ATMs with relative ease. Train and airplane tickets can also be loaded up in the cassettes.  You can even draw out different currencies, so the organization of a vacation can be sorted at the ATM.


Tickets for sporting events and music concerts are other good examples of using ATMs to dispense transactional items other than cash.


5. Stocks and shares


Investments of all kinds can be paid for at an ATM, ranging from stocks and shares to insurance premiums. Again, it's simply a matter of the software in the ATM facilitating the electronic transaction.


These five cases are just a few examples of the versatility of the ATM.  There is certainly many more unusual ones out there. I'll let you know if I come across any more. Check back for more blog posts soon and view our social media.

Scott Millar

Global Solutions Marketing Manager

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Based out of NCR’s R&D Centre in Dundee, UK, Scott Millar is responsible for establishing the marketing strategies and enhancing the strength and market share of the NCR Financial Hardware Portfolio. Here, Scott shares his insights.