The future of self-service banking

Too many slots. Too many buttons. Spanish bank BBVA and design consultancy IDEO rethink the ATM:

ATMs were first introduced over 40 years ago and since then many features have been incrementally added to the machines, in order to fulfill the dream of a truly “automated teller”. Modern ATMs offer a wide range of banking transactions; nevertheless the actual interaction has remained largely untouched.

Fewer slots. Fewer buttons. More privacy and personalization.



  • I love “pie-in-the-sky” design ideas as much as a the next guy but I also like design studios that think past just the user experience which IDEO is famous for.

    While the considered the user’s privacy by flipping the machines 90 degrees, they didn’t bother to address how the machines would be serviced. And with no physical buttons and only a touchscreen what about accessibility for the blind? And so on…

    If the idea is to improve upon an experience don’t ignore or eliminate functionality that serves an actual purpose otherwise you’re only creating more problems.

  • Nice design. The comment from Ed, I am not sure that you can’t have accessibility with a touch screen. I work with a blind guy who uses an iPhone and he loves it, he finds it easy to use the touch screen. That really surprised me, but I have to take his word!

    I think the idea of cards for an ATM is outdated. Why can’t we just have say two numbers, a card number and a pin, that way we can do without the card. This option appeals to me as I often bend my card or scratch the magnetic strip. It also means I can still access money if I left my wallet at home

  • First thing I thought was along your lines Ed: this won’t work, accessibility for those with vision impairment (doesn’t have to be 100% blind either).

  • Ed,

    Hopefully you’re not designing anything for the future or else we’d be stuck in the past.

  • @Mark: I’d love to see the use cases for that. I’m assuming that your friend is either not 100% vision impaired but partially vision impaired (and hence legally blind) or that there is a high use of audible feedback for him to use it.

    The card itself ensures a physical item is required. Much like a physical token of some description.

    @Steve: I believe that you will find Ed referring to the broader requirements. “Pie-in-the-sky” is not a bad thing – but it will struggle to meet the functional requirements. Consider it to be the brainstorm area of design proposals.

  • @Ed: the branch that is using these ATM’s probably also has older ones available for the blind. to not innovate due to the needs of small minority is not sound logic. under the same logic, why do automobiles still have gas and brake pedals that are operated by a persons feet? i mean, what about the needs of paraplegic’s? the fact is that specialty devices are created for those who have special needs…and there is often great innovation there as well.

  • Joel is spot on with my thoughts. Thanks for making it a little clearer. I LOVE that companies such as BBVA and Ford have hired IDEO to explore new ideas. Innovation is critical for making improvements.

    What I have fault with is videos like the one linked to that are all fluff. They get the BBVA and people on blogs excited through the use of slick animations and the promise of fixing issues (such as privacy). Then they mention how great it would be to have cooler ads (?!) on the ATM. Isn’t the point of an ATM to get in and out as FAST as possible? Do customers want to see ads when they’re banking? How is that offering a better experience than going to a real life teller who isn’t going to be trying to sell you a product or service that you don’t need?

    All the while, as I said, completely ignoring the visually impaired. In the EU more than 7.4 million people are blind or partially sighted (source: so I’d hardly call it a small minority. Since this is a “pie-in-the-sky” idea IDEO could have easily add a 10 sec clip that says “and for the visually impaired there’s a slideout keyboard that tucks away nicely when not in use”. Problem solved.

    Ultimately I’d LOVE To see more designers take accessibility seriously when they design and work to include that with their dog and pony shows.

  • Hi Ed,
    I was involved in the project, so I can give some short background information:
    _ the new ATM is designed for indoor use only.
    _ the actual machine (that holds the money, the printer, scanner, etc.) is behind the wall, easily accessible for maintenance.
    _ The machine/software is capable of doing many more things than just withdrawing money. That’s one of the reasons for using the large screen also for “ads” – they can inform the customer of the new functions and benefits.
    _ The machine is designed in a way that you can access it in a wheelchair.
    _ The ATM is functional for visual impaired people (VIP) – even people that are completely blind. You plug in the headphone and the ATM switches to the VIP mode – which is an audio guided interface that uses three soft buttons on the bottom of the screen indicated by small bumps in the surface under the screen. We did a lot of user testing with blind people and they were very satisfied. The current five prototypes that are installed don’t have that software implemented yet – but the next release will bring that functionality.
    _ Actually the “physical buttons” on current ATM create more trouble than you might think – as today these are all “soft buttons” – meaning there functions is a different one in different stages of a transaction – and that confuses people a lot – and is of no help for VIP.
    _ So – this is not the future or a vision – you can fly to Madrid and try out the machine today. I recommend it ;-)