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If cash isn’t king anymore why are the big banks still investing in ATMs and ITMs? Well, cash might not be king anymore, but it certainly isn’t going away. Consumers used cash in 26% of transactions (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco). From $240 billion in 1989 to $1.7 trillion in 2019, cash has not seen a year-on-year decline (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis). Big Banks are offering convenience and high levels of service through these banking technology solutions and now, clients of any Financial Institution (FI), expect it.  

So, you know there’s a demand for cash and banking technology solutions such as ATMs or ITMs (interactive teller machines), but do you understand your choices and how to make the right move for your market and your Financial Institution? ATMs and ITMs look very similar but what they are capable of is incredibly different.  

What is an ATM? 


Automated Teller Machines can complete the most basic of transactions without the assistance of a teller. Accessible to anyone with a credit or debit card, these machines offer convenience to clients.   There are some more advanced ATMs available that can complete a few more transactions or offer different features. These “advanced” ATMs are common within the Chase Bank and other big institutions’ networks.


  • Dispense cash in large bills ($20+) 
  • Deposit checks  
  • Fund Transfer 
  • Access to account information  

ATMs help clients make transactions without the help of a teller. When located strategically they can offer convenience for your clients that need access to cash, but usually only in $20 or larger increments. Advanced ATMs can also deposit cash, checks, and some have a bill pay option. This is about where the features stop.  

This option might be a good fit for some locations but, as you can see, there are some major limitations with the ATM.  

What is an ITM?  

Altra Drive-Thru ITM

“Interactive teller machine” is actually a term coined by NCR, that is used to describe NCR’s specific self-service kiosks. You may notice that other ITM vendors have different names for their self-service machines but don’t let that stop you from making the right choice for your market. ITM is to self-service kiosks as Kleenex is to Tissues.   

Similar to ATMs, ITMs can perform simple transactions but after that, it gets much more interesting. Basically, they can offer in-branch service all from the machine from anywhere, offsite, drive-thru, or even an after-hours vestibule. ITMs can perform transactions with or without a teller, dispense any denomination of cash, and with a few other features more complex transactions can be completed.  


  • Dispense cash in any denomination including coin  
  • Deposit checks 
  • Fund Transfer 
  • Access to account information 
  • Cardless transactions 
  • Video or Audio connection to a teller 
  • Pay bills 
  • Open new account 
  • Order replacement cards 
  • Perform complex account changes that require a staff member 

GECU achieved its aggressive growth goals by deploying the latest ITMs in its high-tech branches.  GECU ITMs

Benefits of ATMs and ITMs 

Both banking solutions can be a good investment and help drive your growth goals.  

  • Reduce FTE (full-time employee) and transaction cost 
  • Convenience for clients  
  • Increase revenue  
  • Improve market presence  
  • Expand hours of service  

ITM vs ATM: Which is Right for Your Financial Institution? 

As an ITM reseller and service provider, we’ve seen it all. There are many benefits and pitfalls behind every machine. Taking the time to select the right mix of machines for your branch network directly impacts how fast and how big your ROI is after purchase. We are a vendor-agnostic provider, so we typically start this process by digging into the goals for the project. Rather than just checking the boxes with the most expensive machine, we focus on the ROI. We walk through 2 steps, looking at the big picture (your goals), and then looking at the hyper-local market to determine which machine will be the best fit.   

Step 1: Which outcome best describes your goals?  

Start with looking at your long-term strategy. This sets the stage for you to make a smart investment, not just a purchase.  

Reducing teller’s time spent on low-value transactions  

Making the transition to advisory-style bankers is no easy feat. You need associates that can handle more than just transactions. They need to be able to advise your clients and cross-sell with ease. Every interaction is an opportunity to increase wallet share, but only if your associates are empowered to do so. The first step is to migrate the low-value transactions that are eating up your associate's time, to one of these banking technologies.  

Competitive advantage or differentiation 

You have already placed your branches in strategic locations but adding ATMs or ITMs can further your market penetration. Where does your FI plan to expand over the next 3-5 years? Which markets would benefit most from having convenient locations? Downtown areas are a great example where the real estate might be too high to justify a new branch right now, but with an ATM or ITM, you can expand your presence without spending your budget on a full branch.  

Step 2: Where do you plan to place your ATMs or ITMs?  

Where are these machines going to be located? Hyper-local decisions are key to making a return on your investment happen quickly.  

In-Branch Location  

Machines placed in the branch are usually to help reduce the number of FTEs and focus more on sales. An advanced self-service kiosk such as NEXT would be the best. NEXT provides your clients with the power to complete almost any transaction a teller could have assisted with, on their own. With a simple interactive display and a module built to feel private, yet approachable. Clients can print cashier's checks, log in with an ID, card, or biometrics.  

Outside of the Branch Location  

Outside of the branch ITMs really shine. ITMs allow your drive-thrus and “off-campus" locations to offer expanded hours and advanced transaction sets for members that don’t want to come inside the branch. Adding more standard ATMs throughout the community will help with some recognition but it won’t truly expand your services. Clients will still need to go to a branch to complete the rest of their transactions. Adding ITMs might be a better investment so your clients can complete advanced transactions and work with your associates from almost anywhere. 

The moral of the story is that both ITMs and ATMs can have value but digging into your long-term strategy and hyper-local needs is what brings home the bacon.  

Get an expert’s opinion on which options are best for your branch network and your goals.