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The ubiquitous ATM is soon going to become more than just a cash-dispensing machine. With banks More than a cash dispensing machineracing to expand their customer base, there has been a rapid growth in ATMs. Now banks are set to woo customers by going in for more value-added services on these machines. The spread of ATMs is clearly evident with close to 40 per cent of them deployed off-site against below 10 per cent a year back. ATM service-providers expect the number of installed ATMs in the country to more than double within the next one year, with most demand for this technology coming from State-owned banks.

Now, use them to pay bills and book tickets.This increase in demand can be attributed to two reasons: the desire among public sector banks to embrace new technology and the realisation among service providers that the ATM can be more than just a cash-dispensing machine. The installed base for PSU banks is around 1,000 ATMs, with the major buyer of ATMs this year being the State Bank of India, which hopes to install 2,000 ATMs by March 2002. Other PSU banks such as Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank, Central Bank of India and Punjab National Bank have also taken advantage of the ATM boom.

Till recently ATM services were confined to deposits and withdrawals from bank accounts by customers. Now the range of services offered by ATMs go way beyond this. These machines are capable of several value-added services such as utility bill payments, airline and railways ticket booking and the facility to deal in mutual fund units.Web-enabled kiosks will dictate the future growth of ATMs. To incorporate these value-added services to present ATM facilities, banks will have to tie up with the cellular or electricity service provider, thus enabling the customer to use the ATM network to pay his bills.

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