ATM vs. ITM – Which Is Better for Your Branch Network?

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Since the advent of the ATM in the 1960’s, customers of financial institutions have more seamlessly managed their accounts and transactions. ATM machines, or “automated teller machines”, allow clients of banks and credit unions to complete self-service financial transactions instead of entering the branch.

Now, the spread of the ITM, or “interactive teller machine”, offers another renaissance in automated transactions. While its basic capabilities are akin to the ATM, the ITM offers a more nuanced experience: a video teller function, a wider array of bill denominations to dispense, and expanded hours and support to improve each client’s experience.

Wittenbach’s suite of ATM and ITM machines includes the industry-leading Hyosung product series; we also provide expert installation, maintenance, and technical support services. Below, we’ll cover the differences between ATM vs ITM, how to choose which product is best for your branch, and where you can go to find more information when deciding between them.

What Are ATMs?

At their core, ATM machines are designed to dispense cash, accept check deposits, and in some cases process balance transfers. A simple computer interface is the point of entry for these transactions, allowing clients to handle their cash outside of a branch, or even further into the community. While some ATMs are institution-branded by a bank or credit union, others are independently operated in restaurants, entertainment venues, and more.

Investopedia sums up the basic physical components of an ATM, including:

  • Card reader: This part reads the chip on the front of the card or the magnetic stripe on the back of the card.
  • Keypad: The keypad is used by the customer to input information, including personal identification number (PIN), the type of transaction required, and the amount of the transaction.
  • Cash dispenser: Bills are dispensed through a slot in the machine, which is connected to a safe at the bottom of the machine.
  • Printer: If required, consumers can request receipts that are printed out of the ATM. The receipt records the type of transaction, the amount, and the account balance.
  • Screen: The ATM issues prompts that guide the consumer through the process of executing the transaction. Information is also transmitted on the screen, such as account information and balances.

A reliable but aging method of transactions outside your branch, an ATM machine’s cash supply must be restocked manually via the cash-in-transit process. Each machine must also be updated for security measures when possible, although many face upgrade limitations in the wake of new technology.

What Are ITMs?

An ITM can be used as an ATM, expediting basic self-service transactions. However, as branches continue to support clients in person, the ITM also offers an innovative alternate method of personal contact. Not only can ITM technology supplement both branches and your apps in an intuitive way, its video teller option provides more advanced transaction support. A video teller paves the way for expanded service hours and opportunity to answer clients’ questions. At the same time, an ITM offers a layer of security for your financial institution’s teller employees as they work remotely. 

By the numbers: comparing costs of ATM vs ITM

  • Hardware:
    • ATM machines can cost from $1,000 used to upwards of $30,000 brand-new. Older ATMs may deter customers by appearing worn and outdated, while newer ATMs may reach their maximum capability with features such as cash recycling.
    • ITMs are pricier, costing in the ballpark of $55,000 to $80,000 for each unit. ABA Bank Marketing says, “This does not include one-time infrastructure costs to support an overall ITM program, which can run from $250,000 to $500,000. As noted, the benefit of that cost lies in staff reduction. On average, ITM-using institutions show a ratio of one call center ITM service agent for every 2.4 machines.”
  • Software:
    • ATM software typically runs on Windows 10 now, and the main ATM manufacturers charge for a software suite depending on the machine’s capabilities. Tellerex calculates that typical ATM software packages are $1,000 for simple cash dispensing, and up to $4,000 for machines with more complex functions, such as deposit automation. Occasional upgrades and subscription fees also cost additional money.
    • ITM software is again a larger investment; your institution must consider integration and professional backend configuration, enough internet bandwidth to ensure your video calls are not interrupted, and greater cost for expanded software capabilities. As the innovation advances, your ITM machine will often require software updates, which may incur a cost as well. The total project can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but is intended for deploying numerous ITM machines.
  • Installation: 
    • Costs for installing ATMs vs. ITMs are comparable; from a practical standpoint, they each must be anchored into a wall with enough clearance for maintenance and ADA compliance. The rate depends on where your ATM or ITM is located, including construction and geography considerations.

Why should you choose one over the other?

When selecting an ATM vs. ITM, your financial institution must consider several factors, including:

  • What is our budget for initial installation, software, and ongoing maintenance?
  • How will an ATM vs. ITM impact our clients’ experience? Similarly, how will this machine impact our employees’ experience?
  • What is my anticipated timeline? It takes time to select your machine, to pay for it, and to install it. If you’re on a tight timeline to install a new machine, and only require standard features, an ATM makes the most sense. If your roadmap allows for transformation and adoption of new features, then an ITM is an investment in the future of self-service transactions.
  • Do I want to insource or outsource my ATM or ITM machines? Wittenbach recommends insourcing, or purchasing, your machines if you plan to maintain and upgrade them over time; it is also the less costly of the two options as you take care of your fleet in-house.
  • Does my branch require basic ATM functions, or the cutting-edge technology of an ITM? It is important to consider your institution’s IT strengths and limitations, capacity to service your machines, and the additional training needs if you choose to introduce new technology.

How can you find out more about each option?

Numerous resources and reviews are available online to help your branch purchase an ATM vs. an ITM. Wittenbach has already done some of the legwork for you; we’ve compiled the list below to support your education and provide clarity in the decision-making process.

Now that you are equipped with the tools to compare the benefits and drawbacks of ATMs vs. ITMs, your institution can make a more confident, informed purchasing decision. Wittenbach is ready to provide further guidance where your branch needs it; reach out to us here to learn more about our available products, services, and support options.